PR… Journalism… Why can’t we all get along?

11 03 2009

maddow1As many of you PR fanatics may know by now, Rachel Maddow, the host MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, aired a segment on Thursday, March 5 that shall I say put Burson-Marsteller in a less than favorable light. Maddow explained who Burson is by naming a number of seemingly questionably current and past Burson clients. I fail to see why Burson’s involvement in AIG’s PR campaign is “evil” when it will help to build consumer confidence, repair a company that she says the US owns 80% of, and essentially save thousands of jobs and billions of dollars. Also, her list of campaigns and clients failed to include the Tylenol tampering case (one of the most successful PR campaigns in modern history) or the anthrax crisis communications. Mark Penn, CEO of Burson, replied to Maddow in an internal memo that was leaked to PR Week, which Maddow then responded to last night in yet another segment

But this is not a post promoting Burson-Marsteller, Mark Penn, or any of Burson’s clients. 

This post is about the continuing battle between journalism and public relations. It’s no secret that PR practitioners and journalists are occasionally confrontational with each other, but I am appalled at how Maddow blatantly mocked the entire public relations profession — twice. So I ask, “why can’t we all get along?” Let’s work with each other and not against to help make all of our lives more pleasing. Rachel, if you don’t understand the importance of PR, then please don’t put it down on national television as something that just helps “shine up” a company’s image to “spin us”. Haven’t we come far enough to move past the term “spin”. And if we haven’t, then I at least think that journalists should be able to determine when to appropriately use the horrible term “spin”.

The “tiff” between journalists and pr is kind of like the chicken and the egg. Did it start in higher education or in the “real world”. Well wherever it started, I can say from personal experience that it is definitely prevalent in colleges (or at least the two that I have attended). PR is constantly shoved to the side and disregarded as less important than the other journalism fields. Let’s work on respecting one another where it all starts — in universities — and maybe then we won’t have as many problems in the “real world”. 

So again I plead for us to get along… or at least to act with dignity and respect on national television.

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5 responses

11 03 2009
Christina

She never insulted PR work; she criticized the fact that AIG is using taxpayer money for PR, and that one of those PR firms seemed to work for a lot of shady dealings in the past.

Nice try, though.

11 03 2009
epoeschl

That was definitely her main purpose, yes. But, I felt that there were obvious underlying tones that mocked the importance of pr in general as well. I suppose it was more of the way she said it, the tone, her face expressions…

11 03 2009
nicklucido

I liked how Penn put it – that AIG is using BM to respond to all media inquiries and to be transparent about their operations. I think Maddow is trying to link BM with AIG, while in fact, BM is counseling AIG on how to appropriately move forward.

These kind of cases happen all the time, unfortunately. I hope there will be more respect for each industry.

23 03 2009
A PR nightmare for the firm used to resolving everyone else’s « PR Campaigns - The blog

[…] that are regarded highly in terms of ethics, with companies in need of crisis communications. Public Relations College Students also addressed the issue, attacking the event from the viewpoint of the constant clash between […]

11 04 2009
poenny

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