|September 1, 2009|
|PRSA's Meaningless Condemnation|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|Public Relations Society of America claims to be the ethical watchdog of the PR business, which I guess is why it issued an Aug. 27 condemnation of "disingenuous editorial content, deceptive commentary on blogs and other venues." It should have kept its mouth shut.|
Leadership of the trade group is apparently miffed at "several news accounts of promotional tactics that signal a common thread of malpractice" under PRSA's code. The group huffs that it's categorically wrong to misrepresent the "nature of editorial content or intentionally failing to clearly reveal the source of message contents in unethical."
Hey PRSA, how about revealing the source of your anger? Who in the world are you talking about?
A condemnation is not worth the paper it is written on if the accused evil-doer is not identified. PRSA takes on an unnamed PR firm for allegedly engaging its interns to write wholesale positive product reviews, an anonymous lobby firm sending letters on other organizations' letterhead, unrevealed bloggers posting positive reviews in return for swag, a marketing firm creating a program to match clients with tweeters for positive mentions, and special interest groups taking active positions purporting to represent larger constituencies in the current national healthcare reform debate.
Those words are nothing but gobbledygook -- a boatload of nonsense.
Is PRSA taking on Bonner & Associates, which has been accused of sending forged letters under the letterheads of non-profits in the climate control debate? Things have gotten to the point where Jack Bonner wants the feds to investigate the former staffer whom he says is responsible for the misdeed.
Is PRSA accusing former Majority Leader Dick Armey and his FreedomWorks gang of thugs for disrupting healthcare town meetings? What about Sen. Chuck Grassley who still talks about pulling the plug on granny or the FACES coal front group that passes off stock photos on its website as members of its grassroots support team? What about "mommy bloggers" whose homes are filled with freebies earned for glowing plugs?
One just doesn't know. At the blue-sky land of PRSA, the group is content to attack those who "fail to conform to fundamental obligations of the professional communicator to protect and advance the free flow of accurte and truthful information and foster informed decision making in a democratic society." Guess the bad guys know who they are.
PRSA's vapid statement makes it look weak. Silence would have been a better strategy. As David Bryne of the "Talking Heads" wrote: "When I got nothing to say, my lips are sealed." Good advice for PRSA.
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