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Internet Edition, January 5, 2000, Page 1

PUBLICIS TO ACQUIRE SELZ/SEABOLT

Publicis Dialog, the integrated communications unit of French-owned Publicis, said it reached agreement to acquire Selz/Seabolt Communications, Chicago, which billed $3.9 million in 1998 and employed 44 people.

Publicis said S/SC will add $4 million in fees to Publicis Dialog’s U.S. revenues, which now total $44M, including $24M in PR.

Publicis acquired LobsenzStevens, New York, last October.  The firm had 1998 fees of $4.6M and employed 42 as of Dec. 31, 1998.

Andy Hopson, president and COO of Publicis Dialog, said S/SC will provide a strong PR partner for the Publicis and Hal Riney ad agencies in Chicago.

Robert H. Bloom, chairman and CEO of Publicis in the U.S., said the firm will continue its "aggressive pursuit" of acquisitions.

S/SC will assume the Publicis Dialog name.  Paul Fullmer, chairman of the acquired firm, will keep that title.  Patricia Pearson, president and COO, will head the Publicis Dialog PR operation in Chicago as president and CEO, reporting to Hopson.

Said Fullmer: "Since 1928, our agency has had a strong reputation for providing stellar client services and generating results nationally.  However, we needed additional resources in a number of marketing areas to better serve our clients."

Clients include Sargento Foods, Ski-Doo, Square D, American Society of Golf Course Architects, Blistex, Toro, Eastman Chemical, McCain Foods, and the American Pop Corn Co.  Employment is 35.

Jon Johnson, chairman/CEO of Publicis Dialog, negotiated the agreement.  The parent agency, based in Paris, has billings of $6.5 billion.

ALLSTATE PICKS HILL AND KNOWLTON

Hill and Knowlton, Chicago, won rights to handle PR for Allstate.  The account is worth more than $500,000.

H&K beat out finalists Ogilvy PR Worldwide and BSMG Worldwide, along with incumbent Edelman PR Worldwide, which had worked with Allstate for three years, according to Peter DeBreceny, VP of corporate affairs at Allstate.

H&K will focus on internal communications as the company utilizes a new business model. The Chicago office will be assisted by WPP sister company Banner McBride, which specializes in employee communications. The firm will work with Allstate on an hourly rate, rather than a monthly retainer, which was the case with Edelman.

FRANK LEAVES ABERNATHY MACGREGOR

Joele Frank, vice chairman of Abernathy MacGregor Frank, New York, IR and corporate PR firm, left the firm on Jan. 1.

Frank, 50, did not reveal her plans.  She joined the firm in 1994 after being a managing director five years at what is now Ogilvy PR Worldwide.

The firm will resume use of its previous name—The Abernathy MacGregor Group.

Y&R STOCK HITS $70 ON S&P LISTING

Young & Rubicam, which went public at $26.50 in the spring of 1998, saw its stock reach $70 on the announcement that it will replace General Instruments in the S&P 500 Index as of Jan. 5.

Motorola, which is also on the S&P list, is acquiring GI on that day.

Y&R owns Burson-Marsteller, the largest PR firm, and Cohn & Wolfe, a top 20 PR firm.

ANHEUSER-BUSCH IS TOP CORP. SPONSOR

IEG Inc., a Chicago-based sponsorship research and consulting firm, reports Anheuser-Busch, which spent an estimated $170-$175 million in 1999, has replaced Philip Morris ($160-$165 million), as the top corporate sponsor for the first time.

General Motors ($130M), Coca-Cola and Pepsi- Co (both $105M) round out IEG’s top five sponsors.

IEG estimates corporate sponsorship by North American companies will increase by 14% to $8.7 billion in 2000.

Novant Health, a Winston-Salem and Charlotte, N.C.-based healthcare organization, has named Fyock & Assocs., in Winston-Salem, for all PR, marketing research and advertising for the next two years.

The agreement is extimated by the agency to be worth about $7 million per year.


Cunningham Communication, Palo Alto, reportedly has had merger talks with Weber PR Worldwide but neither side would comment.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Cleveland, eliminated the job of PR head Tim Moore and said it would look for a PR firm this month.  CEO Terry Stewart said a local/national firm combination would probably be hired.  

PR coordinator Lisa Egizii was promoted to communications manager.  Moore, at the Hall since 1994, said in a voice mail he wanted to pursue other opportunities.


Internet Edition, January 5, 2000, Page 2
   
PR FIRM PICKS 10 'WORST ‘99 PR GAFFES'

The winners of Fineman Assocs. PR’s 10 "worst PR gaffes" of 1999 are:

1. Rev. Jerry Falwell, for claiming that Tinky Winky, a children’s character in the PBS "Teletubbies" series, is a homosexual.

2. Exxon Corp., for lobbying and suing to allow the Exxon Valdez, which spilled millions of gallons of oil into Prince William Sound, to return to its original Alaska-California route.

3. Microsoft, for using PR overkill to fend off the government’s anti-trust suit and win public support.

4. Coca-Cola, for botching its European contamination crisis.

5. Great West Casualty, for suing an 81-year-old woman, who was accidently killed by a grain truck, whose owner was insured by GWC.

6. A.M.A., for firing Dr. George Lundberg, who was editor of The Journal of the American Medical Assn., after he published an article on oral sex.

7. Pat Robertson, for criticizing Scotland’s tolerance of homosexuals on his "700 Club" TV show, which forced the Bank of Scotland to pull out of a $3 billion telebanking deal with Robertson Financial Services.

8. Los Angeles Times management, for devoting a Sunday magazine section to the new Staples Arena with which it was sharing ad revenue—without telling its reporters or readers.

9. RealNetworks, for tracking the listening habits of users without their consent.

10. Major League umpires, for quitting and then changing their minds when the owners started hiring minor league umps.

The San Francisco-based firm’s annual PR blunders list is assembled as a reminder of how critical PR is to businesses and organizations.

RECRUITER SEES BIG BUSINESS PROBLEMS

Speaking at the San Francisco Academy, a school for senior PR executives, executive recruiter Bill Heyman said corporations, which have gained power and prestige in direct proportion to the government’s loss of it, may become the "objects of contempt" in the next decade.

After enjoying years of rising public esteem, Heyman said big business could be headed back to where John D. Rockefeller was at the time he hired Ivy Lee.

"Once again, corporations may become objects of contempt which could lead to waves of re-regulation, heavier taxation and probably renewed opposition to free trade," said Heyman.

"In terms of corporate communications, what this suggests to me is that the focus on shareholder value is about to change," he said.

He believes the dominant theme for the next decade will be "demonstrating that capitalism is an essential component in a just society."

The two constituencies who will now take priority will be employees and the general public.

Heyman also discussed what he calls "the coming war for talent."

There are not enough educated motivated young people in the pipeline to replace those who will be retiring, said Heyman.

In the consulting business, he said companies want to know how to attract and retain good people.  And large corporations have found out they have done themselves considerable harm.

"As companies go out to recruit the next generation of talent, they are finding the best and brightest have parents, aunts and uncles and neighbors who have been victims of corporate downsizing.  These kids are cynical about the corporate world.  Most would prefer to do something entrepreneurial."

Heyman listed some of the common characteristics that top corporate communicators tend to share: high intellect, high energy level, likability, self-confidence, and integrity.

SURVEY SHOWS Y2K COMMS. PLANS

Worldcom PR Group's survey of 51 senior PR firm executives from across the U.S. found 69% of firms were to be "on call" to their clients, but not at work, while six percent of firms were to be at the office on New Year’s Eve.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said they would be armed with cell phones, beepers or both so clients could reach them if the need arose.

Twenty percent planned to be at home for the stroke of 2000—available if there was a crisis, but not disrupting personal plans.

Eighty percent of executives polled said clients had not asked for services on New Year’s Eve.

Two firms said they had not been asked for support, but would staff their offices anyway. Several clients across industry sectors had also asked for support on the holiday weekend.

The client companies that asked for support on New Year’s included a chemical plant, call center, bank, bankers assn., several hotels, a hospital, electric utility, general processing unit for a power company, satellite telecom, environmental services company, electronic security company, steel making/shipbuilding company and a concert promoter.


The trustee for Johnnie D. Johnson & Co., which filed for chapter 7 bankruptcy August 3, 1998, has petitioned the bankruptcy judge in New York to reduce the Unemployment Insurance Division’s claim against the financial PR firm in the amount of $30,772.35 to $17,000.

Lori Kraut, who was manager of media relations for Hoechst Marion Roussel, Bridgewater, N.J., is now director of global communications for Aventis Pharma, Frankfurt, Germany.

The company was formed by combining HMR and Rhone-Poulenc Rorer after the merger of Hoechst AG and Rhone-Poulenc SA to create Aventis SA. Kraut will remain based in Bridgewater.


Internet Edition, January 5, 2000, Page 3
   
MEDIA NEWS/JERRY WALKER
    
REAL SIMPLE HIRES FOUR STAFFERS

Redbook style director Rondi Coller was named fashion director at Real Simple magazine.  Hearst Special Publications editor-in-chief Kelly Reardon-Tagore also joined the new lifestyle magazine as home editor; Seventeen beauty editor Jennifer Laing will be money editor, and cookbook author Susan Quick was appointed food editor.

Real Simple is being launched by Time Inc.’s People Magazine Group in April 2000.

PEOPLE ___________________________________

Jack Curry, previously managing editor of TV Guide, joined USA Weekend as executive editor, replacing Amy Eisner.

David C. Breeder, 69, who was Washington, D.C., bureau chief for The Omaha World-Herald from 1985 until he retired in 1998, died Dec. 7.

Joe Angio, 39, was promoted to editor of Time Out New York magazine.

Deda Coben, special projects editor at Vogue, has joined Harper’s Bazaar as West Coast editor, based in HB’s Los Angeles office, beginning Jan. 10.

Jennifer Hung, formerly a publicist for Celine, was named shopping fashion editor at Marie Claire.

Jill Melhado, who is the daughter of John B. Fairchild (former chairman and editorial director of Fairchild Publications), and Dina Clason are co-authors of "Where to Wear," a guide to shopping in New York.

Orage Quarles III was named publisher of The Raleigh (N.C.) News & Observer, making him one of seven African Americans who are publishers of mainstream daily newspapers around the U.S.

Shelby Coffey III, who became president of CNNfn, the financial news channel, is being paid about $700,000 a year to manage 370 news staffers, according to The New York Daily News.  Coffey had been EVP of ABC News.

Thomas Weidlich, previously managing editor of Direct magazine, joined PR Week, replacing Susan Fry Bovet, who left.

MOVED: The West Coast PR Newsletter, which started publishing monthly in November, has moved to 3625 E. Thousand Oaks blvd., #216, Westlake Village, CA 91362.  Darren Shuster is editor and publisher.  805/497-1950.

WCBS-TV TO ADD ANOTHER HOUR OF NEWS

WCBS-TV, New York, will start a 4 p.m. local newscast in mid-January.

The new program, which will replace the "Martin Short Show," a syndicated entertainment show, will combine local news with features like celebrity interviews, cooking demonstrations and health and fitness segments.

Dana Tyler, a WCBS veteran, and Amanda Grove, who was a business reporter for CNBC, will co-host the program.

The Martin Short Show will move to 1:30 a.m.

WCBS, which broadcasts as Channel Two in New York, currently has five hours of daily news programming, starting with a 4:40 a.m. newscast.

NYFWA TO ELECT NEW OFFICERS JAN. 26

Active and associate members of The New York Financial Writers’ Assn. will vote Jan. 26 to elect new officers, board members and representatives for 2000-01.

The elections will take place at the annual meeting at the Marriott Marquis Hotel at 6:30 p.m.

Daniel Bases of Reuters, who is currently VP, is in line to succeed Alan Gersten as president of    NYFWA.  Gersten is a freelance writer, and also a reporter for Reuters.

In the separate election, associate members will choose three new representatives to replace George Auerbach, a retired PR consultant; Alan Goldsand, a publicist for MediaWrite Communications, and Thomas Mariam of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft.

The representatives serve as communicators between associate members and the board.

NEWSWEEK BUYS BUDGET TRAVEL MAG.

Newsweek has acquired Budget Travel, a bimonthly magazine, which was started in 1998 as a quarterly by Arthur Frommer.

Frommer will continue as editor-in-chief of the magazine, which has a circulation of 350,000.

Also included in the sale are Frommer’s monthly newsletter, a weekly syndicated newspaper column and a travel club.

MEDIA BRIEFS ____________________________

ABC is canceling Monday’s "20/20" in January.

LVHM Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA and Europe@Web, which are controlled by Groupe Arnault of Paris, have invested $122 million in Oxygen Media, a New York company, which is starting a cable channel aimed at women next year.  LVMH, the luxury goods group, is best known for its perfumes and spirits.

College Television Network, a 24-hour, live satellite network, will feature a series of interviews and profiles with presidential candidates on a new program, called "Countdown to Election 2000," which will air from Feb. to Oct. 2000.

The interviews will be conducted by 26-year-old Lisa Ling, who is a co-host of ABC Daytime’s program, "The View."

Museum Los Angeles Magazine is the newest addition to the Museum group that also includes magazines in New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago and South Florida.

The magazines provide listings of exhibitions, performances and other msueum events as well as articles that help readers plan trips to noteworthy exhibitions around the U.S.

Novom Marketinghas been hospitality and tourism marketing counsel for the Museums Los Angeles.  310/788-0861.

(Media news continued on next page)


Internet Edition, January 5, 2000, Page 4
   
MEDIA NEWS/JERRY WALKER
   
SEC PROPOSES WIDER DISCLOSURE RULE

Louis Thompson, president of the National Investor Relations Institute, told The Washington Post that the "fair disclosure" rule proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission will push more companies to open up their conference calls because it will "immunize them from selective disclosure liability."

Thompson said a NIRI survey conducted last June showed 55% of the companies that hold analyst conference calls allow individual investors to participate, compared with 29% a year earlier.

Thompson believes the number is now far higher.

The SEC measure offers three alternatives for disseminating information to the public—a news release, a public filing with the SEC, or opening up conference calls to the public.

Thompson told the Post that he believes the major opposition to opening conference calls to the public has come from the securities industry because it makes reporters their competitors.

He said an analyst told a NIRI conference in Santa Monica that she expected to be tipped in advance to important announcements; that if she wasn’t, she might drop coverage of their companies.

Matthew Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News, said Bloomberg’s reporters ignore companies’ selective disclosure policies.

Winkler, who spoke to 16 PR pros at the Wednesday PR Group luncheon in New York, said when companies and analysts have meetings, "we go to them, even if we’re not invited."

"Sometimes we get thrown out and that’s okay.  We want to get thrown out.  Then maybe those companies will think twice about their disclosure policies."

PARADE ADDS MONTHLY TECH. COLUMN

Parade magazine will introduce a new technology column, called "Inside.com," in the Jan. 23 issue.

The monthly column will be written by Lamar Graham, who is director of digital journalism at New York University.

The column will focus on consumer electronics, computer hardware and software, and the Internet and will explore and explain news and information about the Web and its technologies.

The column also will describe the latest in affordable, practical and easy-to-use products as well as websites and services.

AUTHORS SHOULD PLANT PUBLICITY HOOKS

Freelance book publicist Tracy Day, who offers some PR tips in the fall issue of the Authors Guild Bulletin, said authors should think about press coverage before they start writing.

She says to "think about research, interviews and other activities—is there a story hidden somewhere?"

As an example, she cites an author who includes recipes in her mysteries.  "Capitalizing on her talent in the kitchen she was able to attract the attention of food editors who gave her more print coverage than book reviewers," said Day.

Publicists should be paid a monthly retainer instead of a placement or hourly fee.  A retainer or project fee gives "you a concrete idea of the expense involved," said Day, because the publicist will have calculated his/her anticipated time commitment and reflect that in the fee.

Day said authors should ask prospective publicists for a proposal/plan of activities and also whether a fee is charged for this.  "If the first publicist you ask charges a fee for a proposal, keep looking," she said.

"Personal chemistry" really counts when choosing a publicist, she added.

GOOD TIMING RESULTS IN NEWS COVERAGE

Strat@comm, a Washington, D.C.-based PR firm, orchestrated a series of media placements for the American Highway Users Alliance’s study that identified the country’s worst highway bottlenecks.

The report was released just before Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel times of the year and a period usually light in news content.

With "strategic advances to its well-placed media contacts," Strat@comm said its team of story-placers locked in coverage from many of the largest and most influential media, including a front page "Cover Story" in USA Today’s Nov. 23 edition.

PLACEMENT TIPS ___________________________

London-based wine expert Oz Clarke will write and provide wine reviews for WineToday.com.   Italian wine commentator Burton Anderson, who is a former editor of The International Herald Tribune, will contribute wine and food articles from his base in Tuscany.

WineToday.com is part of Times Company Digital, a subsidiary of The New York Times Co.

The New York Times’ website www.nytime.com has reached the 10 million registered users mark.

Times Company Digital also reported that for the month of October, page views rose 35% at the Times on the Web, 59.5% at The Boston Globe’s website www.Boston.com and 63.4% at New York Today www.nytoday.com.

Sessions or visits grew 60.6% at the Times on the Web, 53.6% at Boston.com and 134.8% at New York Today.

Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine has been redesigned to feature sections on investing, managing and spending.

Katie Leighton, a TV producer, is looking for a "powerful company" to be the title sponsor of a new baseball show in Philadelphia.  The program will be hosted by two former major leaguers.

215/952-5933; [email protected].


Internet Edition, January 5, 2000, Page 7
   
CPRF, IPRA, PCNY TELL FINANCIALS

The Council of PR Firms reported income of $539,910 for the year ended Dec. 31, 1998 and expenses of $387,007. Net assets were $152,903.

The income includes $326,361 in dues and $212,500 in seed money. The tax return covers the period from August 1998 to to Dec. 31, 1998. The 1999 financial report is to be released by April.

Dues are levied at the rate of .065% of U.S. fees to a maximum of $50,000. Eight of the top ten firms, all of whom are members, pay the maximum, which is reached at income of $77 million.

The three Omnicom firms (Fleishman-Hillard, Ketchum and Porter Novelli), each pays $50K dues. The next six firms (1998 U.S. billings of about $300M) are liable for a total of $195K in dues. Projected dues of the 14 biggest firms for 1999 (counting U.S. fees only) are $595K.

CPRF counts fees for PR counseling; corporate and issue ad fees and commissions, and profits from graphics, printing, events, and video production. "Related" qualifying services include research in support of PR programs and website consulting, building and promotion. Activities and income aside from PR counseling may add up to 49% of the total. There are currently 112 member firms. Six members were lost to mergers and one member, not in the top 50, resigned.

CPRF will again publish its own ranking of PR firms, asking firms, including non-members, to count sources of income as described above. CPAs do an "agreed upon procedure," attesting that the figures have been supplied by the firms but also noting they express no opinion on the figures. Account lists and names and titles of staffers are not sought for the CPRF ranking.

Bergen Salary $200K

Jack Bergen, president, was paid $83,333 for the five-month 1998 period. His annual rate is $200,000 and is to remain so, he said. Sarah Drennan was paid $50K but will receive a raise.

Smith Bucklin & Assocs., which helped set up the CPRF, was paid $143,027 and consultant Nancy Sharp was paid $67,678. Web development was $14,100 and local travel, $6,004. Other travel costs were $11,570 and legal costs, $10,000.

Cash at Dec. 31, 1998 was $187,393.

CPAs Gould Eisele Crombie (formerly Gould and Co.) compiled the report. GEC (the new name recognizes partners Sandra Eisele and Michael Crombie) handles CPRF's ranking of PR firms.

IPRA Repays Loans

The International PR Assn. said it has paid back the interest-free loans that certain members made to it and now has the equivalent of $200,000 in its treasury. Dai Nippon Printing Co. of Tokyo is donating $100,000 to the IPRA's Golden World Awards and general operating costs.

IPRA, which is being supervised without salary by Colin Thompson, former head of the PR Consultants Assn. of the U.K., had income of 90,281 in the eight months to May 31, 1999 vs. 224,355 pounds for the same 1998 period.

Office expenses were cut to 88,660 in the 1999 period from 195,677. Loans as of May 31, 1999 totaled 163,127 and cash was $144,876, according to auditors Stapely Benfold.

The 750+ members were billed at the new dues of about $250 yearly on Sept. 1.

PCNY Grosses $45K, Nets $1,587

Publicity Club of New York took in $45,557 in 1999, including $16,735 in dues and $28,570 in meetings, and spent $43,969. Biggest costs were catering, $23,460, administration, $5,700, and mailing, $5,394. Travel totaled $117. PCNY had $5,000 in a money market fund.

The Club ran into financial problems in the mid-1980's. It reported 139 members as of June 30, 1987 but 44 were "life members" who paid no dues. The life members included all ex-presidents.

Thomas Kenney, who had been the paid administrator, reported a high of 820 members in 1983. He later sued PCNY for $24K in back pay.

'ACCREDITING' RAISES LEGAL ISSUES

Groups that accredit, certify, or credential some of its members or non-members encounter a host of legal issues, the American Society of Assn. Executives was told Dec. 5-7 in Indianapolis.

One is that the certifying group may find itself liable when a client "suffers harm at the hands of a certified professional," said Robert M. Portman, partner of Jenner & Block, who presented a 21-page paper to the special meeting.

One example given was a suit against Hearst Corp. by a consumer who claimed shoes did not live up to the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.

"Where the certifying body expects patients, clients, or customers to rely upon the certification, and the injured party does just that in choosing to see a particular professional or entity, or in buying one product over another, the reliance and causation criteria may be met," said the paper by Portman.

Must Offer to Non-members

Certification of non-members as well as members should be offered, said Portman, who cited FTC antitrust policy as well as advice "routinely" given by lawyers to associations.

Higher prices for the credentialing process may be charged to non-members to reflect special costs, it was said.

Associations and their accrediting arms are "particularly vulnerable to antitrust attack because they are considered combinations of potential competitors," said Portman. A desire to promote "a high quality professional service" does not save a program from antitrust charges but will be considered by a court, said he added.

Certification programs that don't have objective standards or are implemented without fair procedures are more likely to attract antitrust challenges, he said.


Internet Edition, January 5, 2000, Page 8
    
PR OPINION/ITEMS
In "Beyond Spin" (described in 12/22/99 NL) three authors advocate "corporate journalism" to replace the current "closed, myopic and hyped communications" that "most" companies inflict on their employees.

They want companies to soften their "dictatorial political structures" and allow debate and criticism.  Companies claim a "culture of trust" but for many of them "internal PR is simply a convenient cover for the same old climate of fear," say the authors (two are ex-journalists).

They want internal PR pros to cover bad news as well as good, use many sources for stories besides those in the company, and give bylines to writers (encouraging accountability).

The authors argue that trying to con workers is futile when they have access to local media, the Internet, e-mail, faxes, pagers, voice mail, and the crowd around the water cooler.

Two of the authors worked at SGI (formerly Silicon Graphics).  Once a hot stock, SGI’s "Sad Saga" was told in a Business Week cover story in 1997.  The stock went from $45 to $10 currently.  How SGI handled PR is told in "Beyond Spin."

Corporate journalism is a laudable goal but it’s one that PR started out with nearly 100 years ago.  Ivy Lee, in 1906, promised his firm would provide "prompt and accurate information" about businesses and institutions and that "any editor will be assisted most cheerfully in verifying any statement of fact."

Today we find verifying facts about a company is often an arduous task.

James Fetig, media head of Lockheed Martin, in remarks that typify current corporate PR practice, said in 1998 that when a reporter calls, he asks himself six questions: "What’s in it for my employer?  Is this something we need?  Will this story affect us positively?  How prominent will we be in the story?  Whom am I talking to?  What audience does the publication reach?"

As for "employee communications," some consultants now refer to it as "change management," meaning any communications must have a purpose beyond the truth or accuracy of the matter at hand.

Gary Grates, of GCI Boxenbaum Grates, which specializes in employee communications, says the emphasis today is on putting any information in context so that an employee understands what the facts mean to the employee, company, customers, etc.  Corporate change (mergers, acquisitions, etc.) is epidemic today, Grates noted.  He is not in favor of "change management" replacing employee communications.

One side effect of "Beyond Spin" is that it further identifies the PR field with spin.  We had, in 1998, "The Father of Spin," a biography of Edward Bernays, and "Spin—How to Turn the Power of the Press to Your Advantage," by West Coast PR counselor Michael Sitrick.

"Spin City," starring Michael J. Fox, is now in its fourth year, an eon for a TV comedy.

In this series, almost everything and everyone is being spun one way or another.

In the Dec. 21, 1999 episode, Fox tricks beautiful Heather Locklear into coming to a party at his apartment.  But he cancels the party to be alone with her.  When she shows up with a date and wants to know where the party is, he scrambles to create an instant party, calling on friends near and far to hurry over.

Characters are ingenious at instantly making up false stories.  Fox puts out a bowl of Fruit Loops and croutons as an appetizer saying it’s an appetizer created by his mother—"Frutons." But Locklear wants to know why only two dinners are sitting on the table.  He dumps the two dinners into the bowl, saying it's part of the party mix.

A Swedish diplomat is mistaken for a masseuse.  The diplomat (played by PRSA president Ray Gaulke’s wife, actress Sydney Anderson), is asked to massage the mayor’s backside.  Click here for scenes from "Spin City."

Aside from the constant flow of false stories that are created in "Spin City," another hallmark of the show is its frenetic pace.  Characters are in such a rush ("spinning") or pretending to be in such a rush that it’s hard to get a fix on them or nail them down to the truth.

We encounter a similar kind of rush when PR pros are called on subjects they’d rather not discuss.  They plead they’re about to go into a meeting, go out of town, have another call to take, etc.  They may even interject their private lives—a sick mother, a daughter graduating from college, moving their homes, don’t feel well themselves, etc., as excuses for not having time.  We call it the "bum’s rush" school of PR.  But there’s plenty of time if they’re pitching a story.

Typical of corporate response today is the stance of Black & Decker, $4.6B company based in Towson, Md.  B&D is being sued for $1.5M by a local PR firm (12/22/99 NL) on charges the company raided its PR staff.  The trial was in its third week at the end of December.  B&D would not provide any legal papers nor any comment on it.  Barbara B. Lucas, SVP-PA and corporate secretary, said B&D has no corporate PR although it has corporate IR.  B&D, she said, operates "like a holding company."  Any PR is at the divisional level, she said.

    

 

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