Thursday, September 28, 2006

25 million reasons PR has a bad name

Yesterday my husband told me the funny story about how Terrell Owens, the Dallas Cowboys football player who may or may not have tried to commit suicide the other day, has a publicist who thinks her client lives only for money.

Kim Etheredge called 911 for help and apparently told police that Owens has been depressed and that she believed he was trying to harm himself. But afterwards, she retracted both of these statements, concluding her remarks with this:

''Terrell has 25 million reasons why he should be alive.''

She was referring, of course, to his $25 million contract with the Cowboys. My husband, of course, didn't really think this was funny--he just knew my reaction was going to be fun to watch, something along the lines of wailing and the gnashing of teeth.

Now, I will grant you that Etheredge is always called a "publicist," at least in all the press coverage that I've seen. But I will also say that the general public doesn't distinguish between publicists and PR practitioners.

So what does the average person take away from all this? Well, it isn't pretty.

Here's what Dallas sports columnist Tim Cowlishaw had to say about it:
Oh, right, Kim. People with money never have mental health issues. Thanks for reminding us.

Even worse, forget Etheredge when she blamed it all on the police. Even if their initial report of a suicide attempt was inaccurate (I'm not saying it was), Wednesday's edition of the T.O. Circus was not a police invention.

"I feel they take advantage of him," Etheredge said. "Had this been someone else, this may not have happened."

Not sure who's taking advantage of Owens here. Don't think it's the police. Could it be the publicist who can't get Owens' $25 million contract out of her head.

100th Anniversary of the Declaration of Principles

In response to Kami Huyse's request to see the whole thing, here is Ivy Lee's "Declaration of Principles," as quoted by Sherman Morse in "An Awakening in Wall Street: How the Trusts, after Years of Silence, now speak though authorized and acknowledged Press Agents"(The American Magazine, vol. 63, September 1906). Update: vol. number was incorrect -- the correct number is vol. 62. Page numbers = 457-63; the declaration is on p. 460.

"This is not a secret press bureau. All our work is done in the open. We aim to supply news. This is not an advertising agency; if you think any of our matter ought properly to go to your business office, do not use it. Our matter is accurate. Further details on any subject treated will be supplied promptly, and any editor will be assisted most cheerfully in verifying directly any statement of fact. Upon inquiry, full information will be given to any editor concerning those on whose behalf an article is sent out. In brief, our plan is, frankly and openly, on behalf of business concerns and public institutions, to supply to the press and public of the United States prompt and accurate information concerning subjects which it is of value and interest to the public to know about. Corporations and public institutions give out much information in which the news point is lost to view. Nevertheless, it is quite as important to the public to have this news as it is to the establishments themselves to give it currency. I send out only matter every detail of which I am willing to assist any editor in verifying for himself. I am always at your service for the purpose of enabling you to obtain more complete information concerning any of the subjects brought forward in my copy."

I'll have a lot more to say about this next week.

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Tuesday, September 26, 2006

More novel thinking

PR Studies: Novel thinking got me to thinking about what I'm reading. I actually made a conscious decision to cut back on my "spare time" reading (not counting Dr. Suess, Goodnight Moon, or anything with Elmo) since the birth of my daughter, just because I don't have much spare time anymore. But I joined with a few friends in a mystery book reading group as a way of ensuring I have a little fun.

This month we're trying something different. We selected a book, Michael Innes' Appleby Intervenes, which includes three stories, and everyone's reading whichever looks most interesting. I chose "One-Man Show," which turned out to have several twists and turns and a pretty convoluted solution. The thing I liked best about it was its '50s flavor-- I know it wasn't, but life seems so innocent then.

I read far more for work. I'm currently into Inger Stole's Advertising on Trial: Consumer Activism and Corporate Public Relations in the 1930s. I know Inger from graduate school at Wisconsin, and we had the same adviser, Jim Baughman. I've only read a couple of chapters but so far am impressed.

In addition, I'm putting together a talk for a panel discussion sponsored by Business Wire (more on that later) about the history of the press release. It took a while, but I finally tracked down an article that quotes Ivy Lee's "Declaration of Principles" in full, plus a couple of other magazine articles about "press agents" in 1906. Now that's entertaining!

Monday, September 25, 2006

It IS a small blogosphere after all

So there I was, skimming through the headlines on my aggregator over the weekend, when I come across a Media Orchard post quoting a former student of mine, now teaching at another Georgia college.

Matt Duffy's blog was one of the first that I read, so I guess you could say he helped to introduce me to the blogosphere. I haven't heard from him in a while and didn't even know he's getting paid to teach (as opposed to teaching me about blogging for free). One of the real joys of my job is having successful students. It's good to know Matt's doing well.

I've read about how small the blogosphere can be, but this is the first time I've seen it in action.

Friday, September 15, 2006

PR research $$$, anyone?

The PRSA Foundation's RFP for 2006 grants and fellowships arrived in my mailbox today. They're still using my maiden name (it's been 4.5 years now), but then again I'm not a member anymore so I guess I can't complain.

The competition is open to academics, full-time students and professionals/researchers and suggests a broad range of research areas. Deadline Oct. 2nd.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

IPR/Makovsky 2006 State of Corporate Blogging Survey

The Institute for Public Relations' new Conversations board is off to a good start with a post on Robbin Goodman's August 2006 report on the Makovsky 2006 State of Corporate Blogging Survey. The report's not-too-surprising major finding was that "executives at top companies have been slow to come to grips" with the importance of blogs, and that half don't have blogging policies though 77% believe they should. (Complete report here.)

Although the neither the report nor the post about it contain any surprises, I am glad to see the IPR promoting this kind of research.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Apologies for past and future errors

AAAAAAAAAAACCCKKKK! Don't worry. That scream you just heard was me, in complete frustration while trying to update and personalize my blog. If I get one more error message my computer might suffer the consequences.

I apologize if anything strange appeared on anyone's aggregator. Just ignore it, as well as any subsequent screaming-- haven't managed to tame the technology yet.

"More important than the curriculum is the question of the methods of teaching and the spirit in which the teaching is given" --Bertrand Russell

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