|August 24, 2010|
|Personal Interaction Lacking in D.C. and PR|
|By Jack O'Dwyer|
|A decline in personal interaction among legislators in the nation’s capital is a key factor in what Vanity Fair calls “broken Washington” and on which others agree. Lawmakers, who sometimes meet only three days a week, no longer live in D.C. but keep their families at home. The opposite was true 50 years ago.|
“Young Turk members sleep on couches in their offices and barely know their colleagues much less those on the other side of the aisle,” writes Edward Sorel.
Chiming in was Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne Jr. who wrote Aug. 9 that D.C. has “stripped out the socialization…members don’t know each other and there’s very little respect for each other.”
Dionne would abolish the Senate, feeling it is "more profoundly undemocratic than it was when the Founders created it and less genuinely deliberative" problems compounded by a Republican minority's strategy of delay and obstruction."
Vanity Fair, as did Time mag July 1 which headlined: "Government for Sale: How Lobbyists Shaped the Financial Reform Bill," described the shift of power to D.C. where business and non-business interests spend billions on lobbying and campaign contributions.
In this same vein was a front pager in the Post Aug. 8 that said the Millennials have developed a distaste for conversing on the phone and a mania for texting. We find the same thing in PR where phone conversations are now a rarity.
D.C. Sounds Like PR World
Dysfunctional D.C. is sounding a lot like the PR world—the failure of democracy linked with a decline in socializing and interaction.
Democrats and Republicans are in armed camps that avoid each other just like PR and the press. PR Society of America is divided into the APRs and the non-APRs.
Dionne’s description of the GOP as the party of “delay and obstruction” sounds like the APRs who have yet to allow a word about the Committee to Promote Democracy in PRSA to appear in the monthly printed Tactics or daily online version. Nor will it allow the CPDP access to the Society’s 21,000 e-mail list.
CPDP member Sandra Fathi, speaking on an Assembly teleconference Aug. 19, said the group’s quest for signatures on its petition (initial goal was 5,000, later reduced to 1,000), has been stymied by that refusal.
Signers have dried up with only two signing in August for a total of 354 since April 23. (sub req'd) About 50 of the “signatures” are anonymous.
The CPDP’s proposal was one of three bylaws up for discussion Aug. 19, the other two being housekeeping details about removing the word “violation” from the Ethics Code and changing director elections so that six are in each year.
Chair Gary McCormick cut off Fathi after 18 minutes, pleading that time was running short, but then closed the scheduled hour session after 45 minutes when no further questions were asked.
What strikes us about the APR debate is that key points are never mentioned including the paltry turnout of only 904 new APRs for PRSA in six years (150 yearly average) and the fact that the neither creativity nor writing skills are covered by the test.
The entire 46-year-old APR concept is out of date, as 2001 president KathyLewton told the call, because PR certificates and degrees from established institutions are now available and are much preferred over an APR.
We urge the APR die-hards to look at how power has shifted to D.C., with VF saying that lobbying has replaced the press as the Fourth Estate (meaning “PR” has also taken a hit). The relevant titles are now in social and digital media. Much of PR has become marketing.
The PR Society lives in 1950s and 60s, when it had the dominant trade press (PR Journal) and was the only one “certifying” PR pros, but it only talks about the future.
PR, Press Socialized in 1960s, 70s
We came across a list of 24 New York PR groups that met regularly in the 1960s and 70s including the Chemical Communications Assn.; Monday II Group (corporate PR); Financial Relations Society (corporate); Wall St. Irregulars (corporate/agency); Wednesday PR Group (agency); PR Roundtable (PR heads of ad agencies); Pride & Alarm (corporate/agency group that created APR); Paper Industry PR Group; Shop Talk (execs of 12 large PR firms), and New York Airline PR Assn.
All were luncheon groups except Financial Relations Society which had dinners in the Princeton Club. In addition, PRS/NY had monthly lunches that drew 300+ to the Waldorf-Astoria and NIRI/NY had monthly lunches.
Almost all big companies had outreach programs that included visits by their PR people to press offices and other events including Holiday parties, golf outings, dinners with entertainment, etc.
Ad agencies including Kenyon & Eckhardt and West, Weir & Bartel invited press and spouses to dinners at the agencies to show them “how an ad agency worked.”
The above only scratches the surface of PR/press life in the 60s & 70s and is something the Institute for PR should be researching.
It has retreated from the realities of PR and is far away in an ivory tower somewhere. By refusing to look at the new data and new critiques of J&J and the Tylenol poisonings, it has forfeited its right to use the word “scientific” on its website. Scientists don’t turn their backs on new material. Proving our point about telephonitis in PR, no one from IPR will talk to us on the phone about this nor visit our offices to see the new materials although many of its 45 trustees are in New York. What scientists would behave this way?
J&J/Tylenol is not just one of many crises handled by PR, but the No. 1 crisis—the one most cited as a PR success story by major media. Initial IPR “strategy” is an attempt to fob Tylenol off as just one of numerous PR crises and deserving of no special attention.
By studying Tylenol, students will learn the power of PR to spin something and the complicity of the press and PR institutions (including PRS which gave it a special Silver Anvil after it lost in its category).
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