PR Watch, citing views expressed by Wendell Potter in "Deadly Spin" and Ted Pincus in his essay on the pullback of IR/PR from press relations, as well as information-impeding policies of PR Society of America, has called for reversal of the trend towards secrecy.
Anne Landman, managing editor of the Center for Media and Democracy, which publishes PR Watch, said press-avoiding policies of the PR Society are mirrored in many corporations and institutions and constitute a trend that should be fought against rather than deepened, which is what she feels PRS is doing.
“At its inception, the PR industry was supposed to be a helping profession dedicated to fostering an honest, two-way dialogue between companies and the public, to help them better understand each other,” she wrote.
But some PR pros, she said, “over the decades have become increasingly manipulative and unethical, employing tactics that purposely hide the truth from the public, establishing corporate front groups, commissioning purposely biased research and favorable opinions, and working through third parties to help alter public opinion.”
She decries current corporate practice of limiting contact with reporters to e-mails so that “conversations can be managed by a company’s legal and financial offices.”
A recent Society practice, she notes, is conducting “teleconferences” in “listen-only mode” which prevents participants from talking to or asking questions of those conducting the “teleconference” except via an accompanying website where the questions are “moderated.”
Raps Ban on O’Dwyer Assembly Coverage
PRS, she said, has now taken the “unprecedented step” of targeting a single reporter—Jack O’Dwyer—by banning his admittance to the 2011 Assembly Oct. 15 in Orlando and the ensuing three-day conference.
“Preventing O’Dwyer from covering their meeting—even if he has criticized them roundly and asked questions they really don’t like—is a shameful and petty way for the Society to deal with his critiques. It is also a violation of freedom of the press,” she wrote.
The Society’s action to “shut out O’Dwyer only confirms that PRS is going the same way as the PR industry as a whole: towards more secrecy and obscurity,” she adds.