Edition, January 10, 2001, Page 1
TURNS ON EDELMAN PR
Edelman PR Worldwide won the Siemens USA account in a pitch
against "tier-one agencies that can handle a global
business," according to Eric Jackson, managing director-corporate
communications of the German-based electronics giant.
He said Edelman won the account because it was "smarter
and hungrier" than the competition.
The high six-figured account is expected to quickly evolve
into seven figures.
Jackson, who joined Siemens two month ago from Andersen
Consulting, said his company has very low brand awareness
in this country, but the brand is "omniscient"
Siemens USA wants to shed its "low key, product-driven,
business-to-business image," and become more marketing-focused.
It plans to list its stock on the New York Stock Exchange
Siemens USA employs 73,000 workers and had $16.5 billion
Siemens AG has 447,000 workers in 193 countries generating
$74 billion in revenues.
BRAGMAN, NYMAN FALLS TO WEBER
Entertainment firm Bragman Nyman Cafarelli PR & Marketing
is the latest acquisition conquest of Interpublic's Weber
Shandwick Worldwide combine.
"We were pursued by other firms, but we were impressed
with the vision and philosophy of Larry Weber," [WSW's
CEO] Michael Nyman, BNC's chief, told this NL.
Nyman's Beverly Hills-based firm has 85 staffers and an
office in New York.
Clients include Philip Morris, Guinness Bass Import Co.,
Smirnoff, Sony Pictures Consumer Products, Paramount Studios
TV, Pizza Hut, Whoppi Goldberg, Kate Hudson and Cameron
MAKOVSKY WINS CANCER CENTERS
Makovsky & Co. won the Cancer Treatment Centers of America
account in a pitch that came down to a half dozen finalists,
said Jack Moore, chief marketing officer of CTCA.
He said M&C had the consumer and healthcare expertise
that CTCA was looking for, but more importantly the firm
recognized the need to be sensitive to the needs of patients
and family members.
The first year budget is in the $250,000 range.
IABC OFFERS $1,000 `LIFE MEMBERSHIPS'
The International Assn. of Business Communicators, in a
move to raise instant cash, is offering "lifetime memberships"
at $1,000 each. Goal is to sell 500 such memberships.
An e-mail offering the memberships has been sent to IABC's
13,000+ members. Charles Pizzo, chair of the group, has
personally asked each of the 25 board members to sign pledges
for $1,000. Normal IABC dues are $175.
The group is suffering from a cash shortfall and has set
up a Revenue Generation Task Force.
Lou Williams takes over as interim president and CEO on
C&W MULLS SUIT VS. BREAKAWAY EXECS
Cohn & Wolfe is mulling legal action against former
executives in its Atlanta office who are setting up a PR/venture
capital firm called The Titan Network.
CEO Steve Aiello alleges the group headed by Tony DeMartino,
who was CEO of C&W/Atlanta, used C&W's "computers
and other resources" to establish a competing PR firm.
He says the executives were terminated after a preliminary
investigation found they were soliciting C&W clients
and staffers for their start-up.
Aiello believes DeMartino's actions were in direct violation
of his employment contract, and a "spiritual"
violation of his role as an officer of C&W.
He says DeMartino had a non-compete clause that precludes
him from going into the PR business immediately after leaving
DeMartino Denies Charges
Ex-C&W staffers Michael Gavenchak and Matt Coleman also
exited C&W for Titan.
DeMartino says his team neither solicited clients nor executives
They also did not use C&W's resources to plan their
business, he added.
While admitting that the trio were "technically"
fired by C&W on Dec. 29, DeMartino said they were planning
to resign on Jan. 2.
He does not recall signing a non-compete contract with C&W.
That point is largely irrelevant, in his view, because it's
"tough" to enforce a non-compete contract in Georgia.
Four other C&W staffers joined Titan last week.
DeMartino plans to announce clients this week but would
not say if any of them are at C&W.
Edition, January 10, 2001, Page 2
MADE NO. 1 PR GOOF
Bridgestone suffered a PR crash of global proportions in
the aftermath of its voluntary recall of 6.5 million Firestone
tires, according to Fineman Assocs. PR, which put Bridgestone
on top of its annual list of the ten biggest PR bloopers.
The Japanese firm earned the spot because its CEO took a
month before making a public appearance to apologize. Instead,
the company tried to blame consumer driving habits and Ford
for its tire inflation recommendation.
The tire defects purportedly caused more than 125 deaths
and resulted in at least 200 personal injury lawsuits. Ketchum
does PR for Bridgestone/Firestone.
The other top PR gaffes of 2000 selected by FAPR are:
2) Dr. Laura Schlessinger, for bashing gays on her radio
talk show, which led to protests and ads in The New York
Times and Los Angeles Times attacking her for calling homosexuality
"deviant" and "a biological error."
3) Fox TV, for airing "Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire"
without doing a thorough background check on its debut show's
star, Rick Rockwell, who picked Darva Conger from 49 other
4) Unilever's acquisition of Ben & Jerry's ice cream
for $326 million. After Unilever installed its own president,
Yves Couette, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, the founders,
said they might quit their ceremonial posts because the
values upon which the company was founded were essentially
no longer a part of the branded mix.
"Ben & Jerry's will become just another brand like
any other soulless, heartless, spiritless brand out there-that's
my concern," Cohen told The Associated Press.
5) Donald Trump, for clandestine support of a PR and ad
campaign against the St. Regis Mohawk Indians, which drew
the ire of New York State regulators.
In an effort to protect his gaming interests, Trump allegedly
financed a grassroots group, The New York Institute for
Law and Society, in its radio and TV ads against a Mohawk
casino in the Catskills. The campaign accused the Mohawks
"of habitual violence and illegality."
New York State fined Trump $50,000 and the Institute $100,000
for violating lobbying regulations.
6) People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for its campaign
that implied college students should drink beer instead
It was deemed "irresponsible" by the Mothers Against
Drunk Driving and PETA's phones and website were besieged
7) National Rifle Association and executive VP Wayne LaPierre,
for accusing President Clinton of accepting a certain level
of killing to further his political agenda.
8) DoubleClick, for planning to tie real names and addresses
from its 90 million user profiles to its own direct marketing
firm, which created negative press that its crisis management
campaign could not dampen.
9) Perrier, for wanting to bottle Wisconsin's pure spring
water. Citizens said the new jobs and increased tax revenues
from its bottling plants were not worth the noise, traffic,
construction, uncertainty or divisiveness.
Protesters with "Boycott Perrier" and "Keep
your greedy hands off our water" signs appeared atop
a full-page story in Time magazine.
10) Quinn Emanuel, a business litigation law firm, for allowing
a "Business is war" technology-targeted marketing
campaign which sent fake hand grenade paperweights through
The annual PR blunder list is assembled by FAPR as a reminder
of how critical PR is to businesses and organizations. Selections
are limited to offenses that occurred in this country.
'CAST AWAY' DELIVERS FEDEX THEME
The hit movie, "Cast Away," could well have been
called "FedEx Delivers No Matter What." Tom Hanks
is shown working feverishly for the company in Moscow, overcoming
all obstacles to deliver packages. FedEx trucks and planes
are highly visible as background in several scenes.
Shirlee Clark, director of corporate communications for
FedEx, said the company did not pay for the product usage
although it did supply "in kind" services such
as air transportation of props and equipment to the movie's
Competitor Airborne Express said it passed up an opportunity
to be in the movie because it felt that the crash of an
Airborne jet, as required by the plot, would be bad for
its corporate image.
MERCEDES REPLACES GENERAL MOTORS
Mercedes-Benz will become the new sponsor of the annual
"7th on Sixth" fashion show in New York, replacing
Rich Anderman, general manager of marketing and communications
for M-B, said the company's sponsorship of 7th on Sixth
is part of a global campaign to identify its brand with
It could lead to sponsorships of shows in other world fashion
The DaimlerChrysler unit will finance the production of
the 7th on Sixth shows for the next three years, starting
with the fall 2001 collection, which is scheduled for Feb.
8-16 at Bryant Park.
The venue will become known as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week.
GM had sponsored the shows since 1998.
At the first Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, the company will
unveil its new C-Class sports coupe.
M-B also sponsors ballet in New York, independent films
as well as several sporting and technology events including
the American Pro Tennis and the Mercedes Championship event
held annually with the Professional Golfers' Assn.
Edition, January 10, 2001, Page 3
MAGAZINE GETS NEW LOOK
A slew of new departments and columns are featured in the
February issue of Fitness magazine, which went on
newsstands Jan. 2. Editor-in-chief Emily Listfield said
the "new and improved magazine mirrors the conversation
women have when they get together. Does the new vitamin
work? Did you find a good facialist? What's the fastest
way to get in shape?"
Launched in 1992, Fitnesss has 6.5 million readers.
The new departments and columns are:
-Fitness forecast-Cutting edge trends, new products and
celebrity buzz; edited by Natalie Jordet.
-Eat smart strategies-Nutrition news, weight loss and diet
features; edited by Leah McLaughlin.
-Connections-Emotional and physical relationships; edited
by Aviva Patz.
-Health report-The latest health and news features; edited
by Amy Fishbein.
-Get it now guide-Highlights a body-specific goal and gives
a plan to achieve it; edited by Martica Heaner.
-Beauty news-New looks, products, and celebrity trends;
edited by Cheryl Kramer.
-Great escapes-Travel news and trends, such as "Inside
the World's Most Expensive Spa"; edited by Anamary
-Innerview-Celebrity mind, body and spirit interview; edited
by AJ Hanley.
-Eve Feuer, fashion director for Fitness, showcases the
latest looks and trends with spreads and product features.
PUTS SPOTLIGHT ON ENTREPRENEURS
My Prime Time will produce a new interactive segment, called
"Great Entrepreneurs" for the Miami-based "Nightly
Business Report," a daily business news program.
The weekly series will feature in-depth biographies of innovative
business pioneers of yesterday and the most dynamic entreprenuers
Debuting this month, each episode will feature a panel of
biographers and scholars who will compare and contrast two
business personalities in a roundtable discussion hosted
by NBR's editor Linda O'Bryon and Donald Van de Mark of
My Prime Time.
"Great Entrepreneurs goes beyond being just biographies
by exploring techniques used and lessons learned by featured
entrepreneurs," said O'Bryon.
Van de Mark said the discussions will focus on the "quirky
to the magnificent."
Anyone with access to a computer will be able to weigh in
with their own opinions through an online offering including
tie-ins to local public TV station websites and access to
the myprimetime.com's core audience of 2.4 million users.
Williams, president of Sahlman Williams, Tampa, was
elected president of the International Foodservice Editorial
NEW WSJ COL. FOCUSES ON ECONOMICS
The Wall Street Journal will put a new focus on economic
developments with a new front page column, called "Capital."
The column, which will run every Thursday, will be written
by David Wessel. It will replace "Business Bulletin,"
and will center on the lifestyle of economic policy.
Larry Frederick, 56, formerly an editorial director
at Cahners Business Publishing, was named articles editor
of the Individual Investor Group of publications.
Lee, 30, previously executive editor at Manhattan
File magazine, has joined New York magazine as
Craig Reiss, 48, who had been senior VP, corporate
editorial development at BPI Communications, which publishes
Adweek, has joined Primedia Inc. as chief creative
officer of the business-to-business unit, a new position.
Anne Fulenwider has joined Vanity Fair as
assistant "fanfair" editor, succeeding John
Gilles, who was promoted to fanfair editor.
Sheehy and Diane Rehm received awards from the
Assn. for Women in Communications. Sheehy, an author and
political journalist, won the 2000 Headliner Award, and
Rehm, who has her own talk show on National Public Radio,
was this year's recipient of the International Matrix Award.
Scott American Corp., West Redding, Conn., has compiled
an editorial calendar of travel media from around the world
that shows what will be published in 2001, and when.
It is available for free to subscribers of Travel Publicity
Leads, a newsletter. More information can be obtained
Publishing, the new owners of Greenwire, have
begun doing original and enterprise reporting.
The publication had mostly quoted from what regular media
published under its previous owner, National Journal.
Greenwire's Dec. 6 issue disclosed BP, the oil giant, is
spending $75 million globally on an image-making ad campaign.
Illustrated For Women, a magazine aimed at women
ages 18-34, has established an editorial advisory board
consisting of nine experts in the fields of competition,
sports medicine, women's health, exercise, physiology, strength
training/conditioning, sports psychology and nutrition.
Cambridge, Mass., will be the site for a four-day course
in global climate change, April 24-28 by the Knight Science
Journalism Fellowships program.
Applicants may be reporters, writers, editors, or producers
with at least five years of full-time experience in journalism.
Boyce Rensberger, who was a science writer at The New York
Times and Washington Post, is director of the program. He
is at 617/258-8249.
in Baltimore, has started airing daily Bloomberg reports
live from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
"News Is People," a new book written by
Craig Allen, who is associate professor in the school of
journalism and telecommunications at Arizona State University,
Tempe, gives a behind-the-scenes look at local TV news coverage.
He interviewed 200 station managers, news directors, producers
The book is published by Iowa State University Press, and
sells for $50.
news continued on next page)
Edition, January 10, 2001, Page 4
STAFFERS JOIN FSB MAGAZINE
Hank Gilman, managing editor of FSB:Fortune Small Business
magazine, has added several new writers, and promoted two
Joining the staff are: Joel Dreyfuss, Heather Chaplin, Jennifer
Keeney, Mac Montandon, Louis Rosen, Sasha Smith, Liz Borod,
and Erica Beckman.
Dreyfuss, who previously worked at Fortune, Black Enterprise
and PC Magazine, will write a new column, "The
Chaplin, who was freelancing for Salon, American Demographics,
The New York Times and Worth.com, joins FSB as a senior
Keeney, who was at SmartMoney magazine, will be a
writer/reporter assigned to the "Capital Ideas"
section and will also contribute to special sections and
issues including the annual investor's guide.
Montandon, a freelance writer, joins as a reporter.
Rosen was named a reporter for the "Live Wire"
section. Previously, she wrote for Newsweek.com, the New
York Times, Forbes and UpsideToday.
Smith, formerly a researcher for The New Yorker, has joined
as a reporter for the "Off Hours" section.
Borod, previously a freelancer, who writes a monthly column
for Dotcommandos, a website, will write for FSB.com.
Beckman joins FSB from Fortune as a photo researcher.
Maggie Overfelt was promoted to writer/reporter from reporter
and will continue to cover technology, and Julie Sloane,
who writes for the "Tech" section, was elevated
to reporter from reporter/news assistant.
FSB is a general interest business magazine published ten
times a year as a joint venture of Time Inc. and American
Express Small Business Services.
Each issue provides coverage that impacts small business.
FSB is sent to one million small business owners and is
sold on newsstands.
ENGLISH-LANGUAGE PAPER FOR JAPAN
The International Herald Tribune and Asahi Shimbun
will co-publish a new English-language edition of IHT for
distribution in Japan.
Asahi Shimbun will stop publishing Asahi Evening News,
an English-language daily.
The new editorial section of the IHT will appear in all
copies of the IHT sold in Japan. The joint newspaper will
be printed in Tokyo and Osaka for daily distribution throughout
the country. The target date for publication is second quarter
This partnership is the seventh one undertaken by the Paris-based
IHT, which is owned by The New York Times Co. and The Washington
Other Joint Ventures
The IHT co-publishes sections with Ha'aretz in Tel
Aviv; Kathimerini in Athens; Rizzoli Corriere
della Sera in Milan; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
in Frankfurt, Germany, and with JoongAng Ilbo in
Seoul. IHT also has an agreement with El Pais of
Madrid to publish together in the spring of 2001.
Since 1987, the IHT has operated a joint venture with the
Mainichi Shimbun called Tribune Japan Mainichi that handled
printing, distribution and marketing of the IHT, but with
no editorial collaboration. TJM will liquidate its holdings
The IHT is edited in Paris and distributed in more than
180 countries worldwide. Its Asia-wide circulation grew
13% in 2000.
JOURNALISTS LIKE TO BE SPUN
Michael Kinsley, who is editor of Slate.com, said journalists
like it when politicians put a spin on the news.
"Getting spun is flattering, like being seduced, or
like being admitted to the club," Kinsley writes in
the "Viewpoint" piece for Time magazine.
If politicians didn't spin, "reporters and pundits
would have nothing to interpret and act wise about,"
said Kinsley, who believes spinning is not a "euphemism
for lying, but actually something more insidious: indifference
to the truth."
"Lawyers are, in a way, the fathers of spin,"
said Kinsley. "They call it `vigorous representation
of my client.'"
In the private sector, spin "goes by the name of marketing,"
said Kinsley. "For intellectual-integrity buffs, marketing
has an advantage over political spin: you can often design
the product around the sales message," he said.
TIP: CONNECT THE COMPANY TO NEWS
Steven Alschuler, a principal in the New York PR firm of
Linden Alschuler & Kaplan, believes it is "most
important" to identify ways a client company is connected
to news events when making a pitch.
"The media needs expert sources to comment on the breaking
stories of the day. If executives in this company can offer
a fresh or interesting perspective, they can often be included
in such stories," he said.
"Positioning a business and its executives as thought
leaders-having them quoted in news and trend stories that
affect their clients and the business community at large-can
be an extremely effective way of branding a company and
creating a clear and compelling identity for it," he
Shoot For New Trends
One way of doing this is to react to news when it breaks.
Another is to think about business trends that are newsworthy,
that haven't been in the news yet, and how your company
can benefit by being identified as a leader in dealing with
"Being the first to be able to tell a journalist about
a newsworthy trend that he or she hasn't heard about before
will not only get you quoted in that story, but will build
your credibility and reputation with that media outlet,"
Edition, January 10, 2001, Page 7
USA TODAY, NYT HIT ANALYSTS
Three major media-"20/20," USA Today, and
the New York Times-have blasted security analysts
for their alleged lack of objectivity. The stories ran during
the holiday season.
USA Today was first with a feature on Dec. 21 that covered
more than three columns headlined: "Wall Street's secret
code spoils investors' aim." Subhead was: "Firms'
interests in selling can influence `buy' rating."
Analysts' claims that they're doing a good job "are
being drowned out by investors outraged by the recent and
unexpected profit warnings from companies like Gateway and
Lucent," said the piece by Noelle Knox.
The article gave numerous examples of analysts connected
with banks who kept their "buy" recommendations
on stocks underwritten by the banks even though the stocks
plummeted almost 100%.
USA Today said analysts are upbeat with the public but "speak
candidly with institutional investors in private."
Investment banks grossed a record $14 billion+ in fees in
2000 for initial public offerings, mergers and acquisitions,
according to the paper. Some "analysts" make $10
million and more yearly writing positive reviews of stocks
floated by their banking wings. Their commissions are based
on stock sales.
"The most critical analysts can have a hard time keeping
or finding jobs on Wall Street," said the article,
providing two examples.
Analysts Mislead Investors-NYT
The headline on the NYT story Dec. 31 said "Analysts
Often Send Investors Astray as They Do Little but Shout
The feature occupied the top half of the first page of the
Sunday business section and a full page inside.
Analysts were rapped for not making sufficient disclosure
of their personal ties to stocks they are recommending.
Mutual fund manager Robert Olstein, who has been in finance
32 years, told the Times he is "shocked by what passes
for research on Wall Street today."
Stefan Abrams, chief investment officer at the Trust Co.
of the West, New York, told the NYT: "Research analysts
have become either touts for their firm's corporate finance
departments or the distribution system for the party line
of the companies they follow."
Several cases of analysts loyally touting stocks despite
months of declines are provided.
The article notes that not all analysts are connected with
investment banking houses.
However, according to Zacks Investment Research, only about
1% of analysts' recommendations are to "sell"
a stock. "Buy" accounts for 37.2%, "strong
buy" for 33.3%, and "hold" for 28.5%.
The segment on "20/20" aired Dec. 22 and was described
in last week's NL. John Stossel interviewed Jim Cramer of
thestreet.com who said unsophisticated investors fell for
the air of impartiality that analysts presented on TV. Some
stocks were "hyped" by the very people who were
dumping them, he said.
NIRI Urges Equal Treatment for Press
Bonnie Dennis, chairman of the National Investor Relations
Institute, said that, "in the interests of fairness,"
the group is urging its members to treat analysts and reporters
Reporters at a NIRI seminar several years ago complained
that IR pros were giving a much better grade of information
to analysts than to the reporters.
Dennis, founder of Value Partners, said the recent "Fair
Disclosure" initiative of the SEC is pushing companies
in the direction of equal treatment for press and analysts.
70% of IR officers surveyed by NIRI now have "primary
responsibility in their companies for financial media relations,"
which is a "considerable increase over previous years,"
Companies that give "guidance" on earnings must
do so in a public manner now, said Dennis. "For all
practical purposes, one-on-one discussions with analysts
about earnings are over," she said.
Analysts Oppose FD
Analysts and portfolio managers dislike FD and believe it
will hurt individual investors more than it will help them,
according to a survey by Pondel/Wilkinson Group, Los Angeles
The poll found that 88% of respondents believe companies
were less communicative during their third quarter conference
calls because of Reg FD. The same percentage called FD "bad."
More than 90% said the rule will make their jobs more challenging
and will do nothing to help "level the playing field"
for individual investors.
Companies will "spoon feed" investors the data
they want to disclose, said one respondent.
Roger Pondel, president of the IR firm, said the analysts'
remarks appear to be "self-serving" but "underscore
what we are finding to be the general opinion of the investment
community professional with whom we speak on a daily basis...we
are hearing essentially the same things from CEOs and CFOs."
Pondel said his firm has always favored wide public disclosure
of corporate news.
NYSSA Head Issues Warning
John J. McCabe, chief investment strategist at Shay Assets
Mgmt. and president of the New York Society of Security
Analysts (7,000 members), said he was well aware of the
charges that analysts lack objectivity in making their recommendations.
He provided a newsletter by Vanguard Brokerage Services
that pointed out the pressures on analysts by their banking
wings and pressure from companies they write about. The
article quotes a study by Professors Roni Michaely of Cornell
and Kent Womack of Dartmouth showing that analysts tied
to underwriters tend to issue more upbeat reports on stocks
handled by their underwriter sister firms.
Edition, January 10, 2001, Page 8
triple hit has been made on the too cozy relationship between
public companies and the analysts who follow their stocks.
Reporters have been barred from this private party for years.
The companies, aided by their IR pros, speak to the analysts
in a strange language of numbers, ratios, and corporate/accounting/legal
jargon that only the companies, analysts and IR pros can
The analysts translate this for the public but their translations
are all too predictable: "Buy the stock."
The question arises: what useful role do the high-priced
IR pros serve when such advice is virtually assured because
the analysts fear loss of banking business or being "blackballed"
by the companies.
SEC, with its historic "Fair Disclosure" regulation,
is trying to break up this rigid, stylized behavioral pattern
which an IR executive has compared to Japanese Kabuki theater.
But based on history, we'd say the odds of the SEC succeeding
are very small. The National Investor Relations Institute
issued harsh words about FD (10/18/00 NL) and a survey of
analysts showed 90% of them oppose FD.
NIRI chair Bonnie Dennis said NIRI tells members to treat
analysts and the press "equally." She believes
FD will foster such behavior.
We wouldn't bet on it since the SEC's "plain English"
in financial communications initiative is 30 years old and
is a dismal failure. Former SEC figure Stanley Sporkin said
financial obfuscators have left even the financial press
in the dust (11/22/00 NL). As an example of accounting gobbledygook,
Sporkin, a CPA, noted it takes him 40 hours to do his income
NIRI should first set its own house in order. It insists
that the $425 dues that members pay it are a "gift."
This flies in the face not only of common sense but accounting
rules which say paying dues to a group is an "exchange
transaction" in which the payer expects something in
return. A NIRI director told us that NIRI and its CPA firm
are using the word "gift" in a special way that
is different from ordinary usage and is perfectly legal.
The NIRI resolve that its members be as responsive to
the press as they are to analysts can be easily tested.
We called up eight IR pros and four returned our calls or
e-mails. This can be an ongoing test. We hope the IR pros
don't try to shift us to corporate PR which even IR people
admit knows far less about company finances and affairs
than the IR staff. As a NIRI officer has pointed out, corporate
PR departments "experience a press call as a drive-by
shooting." Corporate PR units typically use aides to
block and screen press calls.
Corporate PR many years ago and now agency PR have
"flipped" from being oriented to reporters' needs
to being almost totally oriented to employer and client
needs. This has been the operative philosophy preached by
PR Society of America for decades. Kathy Lewton, 2001 chair
of PRSA, says in an interview in the January PRSA Tactics
that "Yes, media relations and shaping/delivering information
are part of what we do-but they're only one part, they're
the tactical part, and they're the last stage of a PR program."
It's easy to see why companies, analysts and IR pros
generally want the press excluded from their conversations.
Reporters will ask much broader and tougher questions. For
instance, in the PR/ad field which we cover, we would ask
ad/PR conglomerates such as WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic, and
True North what are they going to buy now that almost no
independent ad or PR firms remain? It looks like the above
companies are becoming classic conglomerates, buying almost
anything to keep up their growth rates. But the life cycle
of conglomerates is well known. They go through a rapid
expansion phase; purchases are then combined with each other
when profits fail to keep pace at the units and/or their
founders leave; the holding company finds it takes too much
time to manage businesses about which it knows little; the
holding company is itself acquired, split up, or spins off
most of its components. Is there any reason to believe this
cycle does not apply to ad/PR groups?
While on vacation in Nassau, Bahamas, we came across
a perfect example of coercive marketing at a golf course.
We couldn't find the usual markers on the fairway at 200,
150 and 100-yard distances to the green. Some courses even
mark fairways at 25-yard intervals and a few provide satellite
"triangulation" via an electronic device in the
golf cart, which gives exact yardage. A course without markings
is almost like a football field without ten-yard lines.
The only place to get yardages was from was a booklet bolted
to the golf cart that referred to landmarks such as trees,
bushes and sand traps.
Each page in the booklet, of course, had signage by IBM,
Coke, Pepsi, Heineken, etc. Signs posted at each hole identified
the "sponsor" of the hole. Ball washers were placed
on the far side of the tee box, forcing golfers to hoof
it over there (eyeballing an ad on the way). Leisure Time
Displays, Orlando, which makes the booklets for $15,000,
said 500+ courses use them but not all take ads and sponsors
Commercial blight is spreading: golfers are apt to find
an ad at the bottom of the cup.