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Internet Edition, June 7, 2000, Page 1


Paris-based Euro RSCG is buying Middleberg + Assocs. in New York, a leading Internet communications and PR firm. M+A, which has 150 employees, reported net fees of $11.3M in 1999.

The firm was ranked 30th on O'Dwyer's Ranking of Top 50 PR Firms in the U.S. Among its clients are AXA Group, UAL Corp's United Airlines and International Business Machines.

Don Middleberg, who opened the firm in 1989, said the terms of the "payout deal were excellent." Middleberg, who would not disclose the sales price, said "money was a prime consideration," and the contract requires him stay for a minimum of five years with the agency as CEO.

He said M+A will operate independently as a wholly owned subsidiary within Euro RSCG Worldwide's corporate communications group, and not as a unit of Havas Advertising.

The agency will be renamed Middleberg Euro RSCG.

Middleberg said the sale makes sense because it gives M+A offices in Europe, which it did not have. He said the firm's executive committee decided about a year ago to look for a buyer that would move the firm up to the "next level."

Euro RSCG's two other U.S. PR firms--Creamer Dickson Basford and PResence, which are both headquartered in N.Y., are units of Havas Advertising. Bob Schmetterer, CEO of Euro RSCG, estimates the agency's business still in traditional advertising is just over 50%.


Motorola named Hill and Knowlton as lead PR firm effective at the start of 2001. H&K has handled projects for the company in the U.S., Europe and Asia for the past six years.

Ed Belkin, H&K spokesman, said Motorola (1999 sales $33 billion) will be one of the firm's five biggest global clients. The multi-million dollar account will be handled by H&K's Chicago office headed by Gene Reineke, general manager. Harlan Teller heads the worldwide corporate PR practice of H&K. Motorola uses many PR fims worldwide and it's expected that some of these will be kept.

Cunningham Communication handled corporate PR. Burson-Marsteller worked for Motorola in the past but not currently. B-M initially sought the account but did not make a final pitch. Brodeur Worldwide also reportedly sought the account.


Peter Chadlington, formerly Peter Gummer, who founded Shandwick in 1974 and built it into a firm with $206 million in fees in 1997 and 1,742 employees, selling it to Interpublic in 1998, is leaving the company in September.

IPG said that the International PR Group, which Chadlington headed and which included Weber PR Worldwide, Golin/Harris Communications and Shandwick International, has been dissolved.

The three PR entities are part of IPG's Allied Communications Group, of which Larry Weber is now chairman and CEO.

Shandwick was purchased for $170 million in mid-1998 by IPG, which also took on about $70M in debt that Shandwick had run up in acquiring about 35 PR firms.

Chadlington held 9.5 million shares of Shandwick worth $10.8 million at the time of the sale to IPG. He had sold 2.3 million shares in 1989 for $4.65 million coincident with the acquisition of Dorf & Stanton Communications and Welbeck Golin/Harris Communications that year. When Shandwick's stock sank to 2.75 pence in 1992, Chadlington purchased more than three million shares at below four pence.

Initial buyers of Shandwick included The Railway Workers Pension Trust, which owned more than 5% of the stock in 1989, and Baillie Gifford & Co., investment house.

Chadlington, 57, the son of Canon Selwyn Gummer, an Anglican vicar, is the brother of John S. Gummer, one of the leaders of the Conservative party in the U.K. Peter Gummer was admitted to the House of Lords in 1996 and became "Lord Chadlington of Dean" (the village in which he resided). The title is not heriditary.

He began his career by publishing his father's sermons and also worked on local papers following college.

Went on Acquisition Spree

Shandwick, a public company, went on an acquisition spree from 1986-89 in which it acquired 35 PR firms, most of them in the U.S., for an initial $90M and a possible further payout of $180M. The firm stressed that local agency names, management and cultures would be kept because they were crucial to the practice of PR.

Chadlington was also an ardent believer in the separation of PR and advertising. His firm surveyed marketing directors of the 500 largest U.K. companies in 1996 and found that eight of ten wanted advertising and PR to be managed in different parts of the company.

Advertising, said Chadlington, is "essentially a very blunt instrument intruding in our agencies look for the lowest common multiple...they want to produce the same ad in China as in Japan, Sweden or London," he said.

Because of the steeply rising profit margins required by the Shandwick formula, only a small portion of the $180M was ever paid out. Profit increases of 30% or more a year were specified.

The acquired firms had $100M in fees and employed 1,700 people.

Shandwick stock at one point was 195 U.K. pence but this dipped to 2.75 pence on Sept. 10, 1992. It rose several years later to the area of 40 pence. IPG paid 70 pence per share of Shandwick. At the time of the sale, Shandwick was using the name "International PR" as the owner of the shares.

Among the U.S. acquisitions that Shandwick made during 1986-89 and whose names later disappeared as the result of consolidations, were Henry J. Kaufman & Assocs. ($4.8M in fees and 70 employees at the time of the sale); Rand PR ($1.8M and 24 employees); Adams Group and Adams Publishing Group ($5.4M and 60 employees); Simon/McGarry PR ($1.7M and 25 employees); Casey Communications Mgmt. ($3.1M and 40 employees); Rubenstein, Wolfson & Co. ($2M and 25 employees); Hi-Tech PR ($2.24M and 24 employees); Mona, Meyer & McGrath ($6M and 80 employeess); Wenz-Neely Co. ($1.5M and 23 employees), and Dorf & Stanton ($8M and 100 employees).

Many of the principals left the acquired companies. Some, including Amanda Brown-Olmstead of A. Brown-Olmstead, Alex Stanton and Stan Bratskeir (Rand PR) founded new PR firms.

Names that survived were Golin/Harris; Rogers & Cowan, and Miller (as part of Miller/Shandwick Technologies.

PMK PR, which handles numerous celebrities, may merge with Huvane Baum Halls, another celebrity PR firm, New York News columnist Mitchell Fink said June 5. Both firms denied the report. (PMK is profiled in new book Dish)...

Rowland is selling several foreign offices to Edelman PR Worldwide (in London, Italy and Australia) but the deal may not be completed for another week...

Steve Frankel, managing director of Burson-Marsteller, heads mergers and acquisitions of B-M...

iNEXTV, online video media, to BSMG Worldwide and FCB Chicago, units of True North.

Internet Edition, June 7, 2000, Page 2


"We love companies that fail," Ken Yamada, who is senior editor of Red Herring magazine, told about 500 PR pros at a May 23 PRSA/Los Angeles chapter meeting in Marina del Rey.

"Call me if your company is failing, we'll do a story on you right away," said Yamada, who has been covering venture capitalists and start-up companies for six years.

"When the CEO of called and wanted to explain why his company was going under we did the story, and after it was published had offers from the VC community," Yamada said.

Later, he told a reporter for O'Dwyer's PR Daily that Red Herring only gets good story pitches, and he rarely receives bad news about start-ups.

"I get 50 pitches a day, and we don't have the bandwidth to look at all of them, and I'm not interested in most of them," Yamada said.

Want Execs to Be Available

When Red Herring reporters have interest in the story, Yamada says publicists should remember to make sure an executive is available, send a financial statement on sales, profits, losses, any analysts names, testimonials and list the competition.

Yamada said he will do a couple of in-depth stories on people who catch his eye.

He said the best way to pitch is to send him an E-mail, and publicists should not be offended if he doesn't call back.

Network World magazine editor Mark Brownstein said, "It is still people-to-people, it's a long-term relationship between you and them."

Brownstein, whose publication covers everything from eMarket trends to dog food, homes, and cars, gets about 100 E-mail pitches every day.

"If I see an E-mail from someone I know, I'm more likely to open it," he said.

If he gets an E-mail with no storyline in the subject box, it is a good way to not get read, said Brownstein, who noted the best pitch he got was from a publicist who knew who he was dealing with, knew why it would be interesting to him and it was an exclusive.

Need Big Company News

E-Commerce Times editor David Geller gets 150 pitches a day on the Internet and technology.

"We publish around the clock, weekly, some 15 to 20 news and feature stories daily," said Geller.

"We analyze our readership response, and as one of the largest news publications on the web our readers are interested in big name companies.

"You need to make your company newsworthy. When a major company, like Cisco or Microsoft, makes an announcement, it is newsworthy," said Geller, who explained that in order for smaller companies to become newsworthy, PR needs to be part of the marketing communications, and rely solely on press releases.

"Advertising provides an advantage," said Geller. "Keep in mind what stories want. PR needs to be the tool for name recognition to be attractive to the reader, PR is the cornerstone, but not alone."

Editor Brooke Wirtschafter of the Silicon Alley Reporter/Digital Coast Reporter, also prefers E-mail pitches.

"You need to be concerned with what you're pitching, who we are, what we do to `rise above the din,'" said Wirtschafter.

"We produce several newsletters on and offline, and what makes them interesting is the content. There is a plethora of emerging technology online," she said.

Wirtschafter, who writes a "News Brief" section, gets her ideas from what people E-mail her, through networking, and seeing what's online.

"No news releases please, because everyone who can get online can read them," said Wirtschafter, who also writes for interactive TV, where she covers online entertainment trends, and emerging technologies.

Editor Recalls Treachery

"Don't lie to me," said technology reporter P.J. Huffstutter of The Los Angeles Times.

She recalled an incident with a major Southern California technology company PR pro, who promised an exclusive story, and even pitched Huffstutter's angle to the CEO.
"When I asked this person if they had talked to any other media, reporter or publication, she told me 'No'," said Huffstutter. "But, when my exclusive story was published in the Sunday L.A. Times, it also appeared in The New York Times and it was my angle."

Huffstutter, who was recently transferred from the Orange County edition of the L.A. Times to covering technology, offered these quirky tips:

-- "Anyone who faxes their pitch to `Mr. Huffstutter' will see their stuff land in the trash can.
--"Anyone who calls me `Huffstutter's secretary" will also get ignored.
--"Don't seed an attachment with an E-mail, unless I asked for it.
--"Use the subject line to say what it is you are pitching."

Huffstutter urged publicists to establish positive relationships and trust with reporters at the Times.

"Sorry, it is just the way it is. News never breaks in the newsroom. I like to visit a company office. I want to talk to the tech person if it's a tech company, and I want to talk to the CEO, not the sales person if it's a corporation," she said.
During a question-and-answer session the panel was asked if any editor had biases towards working with in-house PR pros versus agency pros?

Most agreed that PR agencies are more focused in getting materials such as backgrounders, photos, graphics and lining up interviews, but all of the panelists agreed it was credibility of service and delivery on a promise.

About half of the five panelists said there is sometimes more access to a CEO without an agency.

All agreed PR pros need to watch media coverage, make their company newsworthy through advertising, PR newswires or taking advantage of breaking stories.
"If a major virus is creating havoc for big companies, and you have a client knowledgeable about prevention on the technology, you'll get coverage," said Huffstutter.

The program was co-sponsored by and produced by the MWW Group.


Dow Jones & Co. wants the Securities and Exchange Commission to amend its proposed selective disclosure rule which would prohibit publicly owned companies from giving information to handpicked investors and analysts.

Peter G. Skinner, EVP and general counsel of the company that publishes The Wall Street Journal, Barron's and Dow Jones Newswires, said the proposed rule would result in "less informative, less objective and less timely reporting."

Skinner's critical comments, which were filed as the period for reaction was ending last month, seek to make the proposed SEC rule inapplicable to information releases to "bona fide news organizations."

Bloomberg News, a financial news service, said Dow Jones was arguing that the proposal "could dry up scoops."

Matt Winkler, Bloomberg's editor-in-chief, said in an interview with The New York Times: "There isn't a great story that has come from a handout. Ever."

He added: "The best stories come from good old-fashioned enterprise. I don't understand what the fuss is all about."


The president of the New York Financial Writers' Assn. has asked this Newsletter to stop publishing news stories about job openings for financial journalists, which have appeared in the membership bulletin.

A report on the openings appeared in the Newsletter for May 24 on page three.

Dan Bases, president, said the board discussed the matter at a may 31 meeting and believes O'Dwyer's long running practice of reporting on selected job openings was "robbing" members of a benefit.

Bases also said the information was copyrighted and not intended for the general public.

Jack O'Dwyer, publisher and editor, who is a longtime member of NYFWA, will comply with the board's request.

Internet Edition, June 7, 2000, Page 3


Frank, Wikinson, Brimmer, Katcher, a New York-based PR firm hired by United Airlines and US Airways, offered exclusive details of the $5 billion merger of the two airlines to three newspapers on May 23.

The editors at The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and The New York Times had to agree not to call any outsiders for comments or report the merger before midnight. After that, they were free to run their reports and seek other comments.

All three papers signed on for the exclusive, which eventually fell apart when The Financial Times website broke the story about 6:30 p.m.

Jill Dutt, who is the Post's assistant managing editor for financial news, told Howard Kurtz, who covers media for the Post, that she agreed to the deal -- without knowing it involved USAirways and United -- because "it does a better job for readers to have the story on the first day than not to have the story."

Glenn Kramon, the Times' business editor told Kurtz that he agreed to the deal because "it's better than finding out at 7 at night or midnight and having to scramble."

Paul Steiger, WSJ managing editor, said corporate executives often ask the Journal not to call anyone when they are about to launch a takeover attempt.

Steiger said the Journal usually is able to talk news sources out of these kinds of arrangements. But, "if the news is big enough, we'd rather give it to our readers with whatever caveats are appropriate."

Kurtz said the PR firm's effort "underscored the degree to which corporate executives, like politicians, are increasingly determined to shape coverage of their exploits."

FWBK principal Joelle Frank had no comment on what the airlines had in mind.


A majority of a cross-section of 300 online consumers are not willing to pay for their news online, according to a new Online Credibility survey conducted by InsightExpress, a Greenwich, Conn.-based online market research service.

The firm surveyed a representative sample of online consumers and discovered only 13% would be willing to pay for their news online. More than half (55%), do not believe paying for online news would be worth it, and the remainder are undecided.

The study also showed more than three-quarters of respondents said news is more credible when appearing in a source that is both online and offline.

According to the respondents, the most important criteria when choosing an online news source are having a variety of topics available (33%), the ability to receive frequently updated news briefs (30%) and the reputation of the provider (26%).

"Online news is more credible if it comes from an established, traditional source," said Charles Hamlin, president/COO of InsightExpress.

Other key findings revealed the primary reasons consumers go online for news: Local news (27%); World news (27%); National news (25%); Sports news (8%); Business news (5%); Financial news (5%), and Editorial news (1%).

PLACEMENT TIPS _____________________

The Gift List's new Holiday 2000 edition lists editors of holiday gift guide editorial features.

It includes national and regional magazines, top 250 newspapers, major wires and news services, and national TV, according to president Amy Bernhard, who started the guide last year.

Priced at $349, the guide will be shipped to customers in two waves: Magazines in mid-June, followed by short leads a few months later.

2950 N. Maiden lane, Altadena, CA 91001-1725; 626/797-8877; fax: 2801;

Chip Center ( is a new online trade media source that covers the electronics industry. Readers primarily consist of electronics engineers, purchasing agents for electronic components and technical managers.

Chip Center, which has more than 60 editors and contributors, also supplements staff-written materials with stories from expert individuals or companies as long as articles are balanced.

PR pros should check Chip Center?s web page for more information.

Jack Shandle, who is chief editor, is at 415/284-1474; [email protected], and executive editor Murray Slovick's number is 732/438-9121; [email protected].

Matt Gerson, host of "Matt Gerson's Person To Person," which is heard weekly in 10 major radio markets, including New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, seeks interesting guests for his program which originates in the Phoenix area.

Guest interviews are often conducted by long distance hook up.

Major celebrities routinely appear on the show to discuss their careers, upcoming films, CDs, books, etc.

The show also books authors, politicians, and people from all walks of life with a public profile and something interesting to say.

The show's publicist, Lee Solters, is handling inquiries at 323/651-9300; [email protected].

Fortune has added two new contributors whose columns will begin appearing regularly.

"Health," by Donald D. Hensrud, M.D., of Mayo Clinic and a pioneer in the field of executive health, will focus on matters ranging from diet to stress.

"In the Long Run," penned by economist J. Bradford DeLong, a professor of economics at the Univ. of California/Berkeley, will look into how the economy and its long-term prospects affect business.

Internet Edition, June 7, 2000, Page 4


Print and online journalists want to get news releases containing photos or graphics.

This was the number one preference of journalists according to Bennett & Co.'s 11th media survey.

The Orlando-based PR firm's annual survey, which is based on responses from 100 journalists nationwide, found more than nine of 10 journalists said they get story package ideas combining news releases and graphics, and 82% said they put these packages to use.

Sending news releases with an accompanying website URL where journalists can download photos is also popular, with 47% of print journalists saying they would like to get such submissions.

Also wanted are: downloadable graphics in JPEG form (unanimous choice); information sent via e-mail; quick response time to queries, and a sharp, creative, and credible PR executive, which beats a canned pitch any day

Bennett & Co. found 70% of those polled said they rely on getting information from PR firms.

Other media survey findings:
--Four in 10 Internet journalists said news of their companies' websites is updated at least once a day; 20% said the information changes 2-4 times a day.

--77% of TV journalists prefer using Beta tapes; almost seven in 10 said they occasionally use video news releases in their stories.

--Publicists should send their messages to assignment editors at TV stations' 62% of them said they call the shots on who in their organization should get the news.


Susan Molinari, who runs a Washington, D.C.-based firm and also works for Fleishman-Hillard, will write a weekly column for, starting June 14.

Phil Recchia, executive producer of JagNotes News, which is based in Farmingdale, N.Y., said Molinari will cover the comings and goings on Capitol Hill and in the White House, with an eye toward their impact on Wall Street.

Her column, titled, "Capital Know," will be published each Wednesday at noon (ET), with special reports as merited by news events.


Joan Biskupic is the fifth news staffer in the last eight months to leave The Washington Post for USA Today. Biskupic, who will cover the U.S. Supreme Court, joins David Lindsey, a national editor who left in April; Saundra Torry, who writes editorials; George Hager, an economics writer, and Tom Kenworthy, who became a Denver correspondent when the Post closed its bureau there.

CNET Networks, San Francisco, named three executive editors to its staff: Robert Luhn, previously editor of Computer Currents, a magazine, joins as the editor for hardware, software and Internet services; Rich Castagna, formerly editor for Window Systems magazine, comes on board as editor for small business, and David Carnoy, previously editorial director of, joins as the editor for wireless.

Karen Breslau was named Newsweek's San Francisco bureau chief, and Brad Stone will become technology correspondent, based in S.F. Breslau replaces Pat King, who will continue working for the bureau as a regular stringer.

Paul Martin, assistant managing editor of The Wall Street Journal, was awarded the Elliott Bell Award by the New York Financial Writers' Assn.

Samuel S. Graff, copy editor of Investment News, has left the paper.

Howard Witt, previously with The Chicago Tribune, has joined The City Paper, Washington, D.C., as editor, replacing David Carr, who is writing for

Angela Burt-Murray, previously fashion and beauty features editor at Essence, has joined Teen People as beauty and health director.

Susannah Meadows, previously at GQ, has joined Newsweek as general editor of the "'Periscope" section.

Robin Kamen, 38, previously senior editor at, has rejoined Crain's New York Business as general manager/editor interactive, a new position. Kamen, a former reporter at The Bergen Record before joining Crain's in 1992, will oversee Crain's website, at

Robert Vare, a former editor at The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone, has joined Atlantic Monthly as a senior editor.

Ellen Kunes, 41, has resigned as editor-in-chief of O: The Oprah Magazine, after two issues. Kunes denied she was unhappy with the editorial structure and gave "work-family issues" as the reason for leaving.

MEDIA BRIEFS________________________

Later, a British men's magazine, which features photos of half-clad women, has added a dads' section, including features on baby care.

Dads magazine's first issue goes on newsstands across the U.S. on June 6.
The mission of dads is to help men in their roles as parents and professionals, said Eric Garland, editor/CEO.

New York Times Digital, the Internet unit of The New York Times, will provide information about local entertainment events to WINS radio..

Internet Edition, June 7, 2000, Page 7


The "war" between PR pros representing celebrities and reporters trying to cover the celebs is told by MSNBC reporter Jeannette Walls in Dish ($25 from Avon Books of HarperCollins).

At the moment, reporters are losing, having to "grovel" before publicists to get access to the stars, says Walls, former Esquire and New York writer.

The hostilities include "blackballing" reporters from the entire client list of a firm if a reporter should annoy even one of the stars, and having private investigators look for "dirt" on anyone who threatens the reputation of a star.

Writers are also forced to sign contracts that limit the time in which they can use quotes from an interview and are forced to use only new photos of stars or face ostracism. Numerous other controls are placed on use of text and pictures.

PMK PR Is Blasted

Heavy criticism is laid on PMK PR, a unit of Interpublic's McCann-Erickson. It is headed by Pat Kingsley, 67, former secretary at Rogers & Cowan who helped found Pickwick PR in 1971. Kingsley, a native of Gastonia, N.C., dropped out of Winthrop College, S.C., after two years, says Walls.

Also a partner is Lois Smith, wife of Gene Smith, ex-New York Times and now with Utility Spotlight. Kingsley is in Hollywood and Smith in New York.

PMK's staff of 45 works or worked for 100+ clients such as Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jodie Foster, Sharon Stone, Richard Gere, Al Pacino, Goldie Hawn, Candice Bergen, and Roseanne Arnold, according to Walls. PMK doesn't publish a client list. There was no immediate comment from PMK on the book.

"Among reporters, Kingsley was the most feared, most loathed woman in Hollywood," she writes. The firm has a "demonstrated willingness to retaliate" against writers who displease it, she says.

Can Launch an Unknown

The PMK client list is so powerful that the firm can take a relative unknown and obtain heavy publicity from media that are afraid to offend PMK, says Walls. An editor for People mag, which had suffered a steep decline in cooperation by celebs, tried to organize editors of other mags (Time, Newsweek, Vanity Fair, etc.) to fight against making deals with publicists but the move flopped, Walls says.

Schwarzenegger is praised for being able to give 60 interviews in one day "and make each seem like the first" while Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts are said to be difficult. (Don't try to write about Cruise and his involvement in Scientology, advises Walls).

When writer Stephanie Mansfield interviewed Cruise for GQ magazine, things went smoothly until she told him she talked to a classmate at Glen Ridge High School in New Jersey who knew him as Tom Mapother. Mansfield told Walls that Cruise "went ballistic" and slammed down the phone. Kingsley called a few minutes later and, Mansfield told Walls, said Mansfield would be barred from any PMK clients if the interview with the former classmate was used. Mansfield used it and was barred, says Walls. Kingsley is quoted as saying she told Mansfield: "What I did say is that it would be a long time before I would subject a client to being interviewed by her."


Michael Schrage, who is co-director of the MIT Media Lab's eMarkets initiative, said word of mouth, press coverage and investor relations are essential to marketplace success.

Writing in the May 29 issue of Adweek, Schrage, who is the magazine's editor-at-large, said advertising has "slid from unquestioned dominance to first-among-equals to just another expensive arrow in the client's marketing power."

He said "sophisticated clients are moving away from the conventional notion that advertising builds brands and toward a belief that advertising builds brand awareness."

"For many of our clients, PR really does drive how the brand gets defined," Pam Alexander of Alexander Ogilvy, a high tech PR firm, told Schrage.

Schrage said the better PR firms often have a stronger understanding of how value is articulated than the ad agency.

Ruder-Finn's San Francisco managing director Cathy Litzow told Schrage that her best clients are the ones that integrate advertising and PR from the beginning.

Litzow said she has seen lots of cases where clients rely too much on advertising to try to build their brand in communities that don't pay a lot of attention to advertising.

Schrage believes PR and news coverage will command - and get - more of a premium, as brand advertising becomes more of a high-priced commodity.

"Press and media coverage become far more important in building the illusion or reality of credibility," said Schrage.

"For marketing executives and brand managers in high tech, telecom or almost any ultra-competitive marketplace, good editorial coverage matters 10 times more than good advertising," states Schrage.

In harsher words, Schrage said "mediocre coverage now matters at least 200 times more than mediocre advertising" because nobody remebers mediocre ads, while there is a "fighting chance" that the right people will remember a decent mention in a legitimate publication or video broadcast.


Farley Manning, who was a founding partner in Manning, Selvage & Lee, died May 29 at the age of 90 in Olympia, Wash.

Manning founded Farley Manning Assocs., New York, in 1954, and in 1972, he merged his agency with Selvage & Lee, to form Manning Selvage & Lee, which was acquired by Benton & Bowles.

He is survived by his wife, Jean, and his daughter, Roni-Ruth.

Internet Edition, June 7, 2000, Page 8

PR is going through "a massive identity crisis" partly caused by the explosion of media outlets and technology, says West Coast PR pro and commentator Zhenya Gene Senyak (5/31 NL).

He feels PR people are part of the expanding news media universe and are "integral to the gathering and dissemination of news." So do we.

A lot about PR has changed in recent years, says the veteran PR pro/writer. He's writing a series for

That made us think, what changes have we noticed? We can think of one big one. PR people appear to have lost their expense accounts. In former days, such as the 1970s and '80s, our calendar was filled with lunches with individual PR pros or company-sponsored lunches and dinners.

In our very early days as a business reporter (six years with the former New York Journal-American and four with the Chicago Tribune in New York) PR pros and their spouses were such close friends that they came to our house in Brooklyn and knew our children. We visited their houses and knew theirs.

We got doctor and dentist recommendations from PR people. No favor was too small or large for them to do and we reciprocated when possible.

Evenings on the town (theater, opera, ballet, movies, baseball, football and basketball games, etc.) were common. We socialized as couples, often getting to know the spouse (usually the wife) as well as the PR pro. This was the era of Benjamin Sonnenberg, who built a huge PR business based on parties in his townhouse near Gramercy Park.

Golf outings, picnics, trips around Manhattan in chartered boats, cocktail parties and dinner at "21" dotted the calendar. Companies for decades sponsored events such as a bus trip to the Army/Navy football game (Caltex) or dinner and entertainment at the St. Regis (ITT). The PR heads of 30 ad agencies hosted the trade press each month. PR pros exercised creativity in finding ways to spend time with reporters. The whole thing came close to being corrupt and a wave of guilt swept the media in the '70s that washed a lot of it away.

Most PR pros in those days had the clear goal of getting as close to the media as possible. They wanted to be near the news and info "buzz." Whether they affected stories was one thing. But at least they knew what was coming. One of the most sought-after corporate PR execs, known for his press contacts, demanded a $5,000 a month budget for entertaining the media (often taking four or five reporters to lunch at one time) and for the 50 or so publications he read. Many companies met his and the similar demands of other PR pros. They basically ran their own businesses and the corporate wisdom of the time was to let them do it. They were personages in their own right.

But PR pros now appear to have lost the power of the purse. The beancounters have arrived and measure every moment of their day. Two-hour, $100 lunches at 21?" Fuggedaboutit!" cruise around Manhattan on a summer night? Ditto. The working PR pro now is often someone who stays a few years and is easily replaced. While funds for building individual press relationships have dried up, budgets many times as big are being spent for PR firm ad campaigns and winning awards. The aim is to build corporate, not individual, power.

Speaking of power, columnist Jeannette Walls writes a chilling story of PR power plays in her new book, Dish, which covers celebrity PR (page 7). Annoy one client of a powerful firm and you're barred from all the clients. We see the same thing in business PR. A reporter who is "too negative" is banned from all the clients of a PR firm. A Wall Street analyst who dares recommend "sell" may find himself or herself blackballed on Wall Street. What trade or even general news medium will write searchingly about one of the ten ad/PR conglomerates, which control more than half of national ad purchases? A group of PR firms gangs up and decrees that ad commissions can be counted as part of a "PR" firm's revenues. The PR people Walls deals with are there mainly to block press coverage, not obtain it. She is worried about anti-information power blocks but feels the Internet will end their power. "Whenever the `legitimate' media swears off gossip, another medium comes along to fill the void," she says.

The IABC, asked to describe its $1 million new website, which is on hold because of lack of additional funds, says, "It's a comprehensive interactive business initiative that is a fully functional, customizable, on-line business venture. It will offer services and information focused on communication to any business professional in search of solutions and in obtaining business objectives." There is no story about the new website on IABC's current website.



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