Posted by Amanda Chapel
Saturday, September 2, 2006
This just into the news desk... four Chief Executive Officers, from some of the world's largest public relations firms, are all reported to have had sudden major heart attacks yesterday. Although an exact cause has not yet been determined, apparently each had just been given an RFP from the U.S. Department of Defense.
According to the Associated Press...
WASHINGTON - The U.S. command in Baghdad is seeking bidders for a two-year, $20 million public relations contract for monitoring the tone of news stories about the Iraq war filed by U.S. and foreign media.
Proposals, due Sept. 6, ask companies to show how they would "provide continuous monitoring and near-real time reporting of Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international and U.S. media," according to the solicitation issued last week.
Contractors also will be evaluated on how they would provide analytical reports and customized briefings to the military, "including, but not limited to, tone (positive, neutral, negative) and scope of media coverage."
The names of individuals have not yet been released out for respect for their families.
However, our sources we were able to gather a few notable quotes attributed to the stricken CEOs.
"This should keep that little bastard Sir Martin off my ass."
"Twenty mil for monitoring! Damn. How hard can that be?"
"Gragget... fromel... tressfrib... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."
All are reportedly doing well and resting comfortably.
Our commentary today comes indirectly from the venerable Jack O'Dwyer. Recently Jack said:
"PR gets into a lot of trouble because sales and marketing masquerade under the name PR. Marketing and sales are one-way messaging whereas PR is a relationship of give-and-take and done in public. Only when companies use and dialog with the press is it PR. When they refuse to answer questions, it's marketing. We must draw a line in the sand between PR and marketing. They are both mutually exclusive of the other. Most 'PR' firms today are marketing firms."
Note: The military last year was criticized sharply for a public relations scheme in Iraq that included hiring a PR firm that paid Iraqi news media to carry certain news stories. Pentagon officials have defended the program as a necessary tool; but critics have said it contradicts American values of freedom of the press.
Outrageous waste of taxpayer dollars, but I'm sure all the PR firms will bite on this bait. Burson has been working with the US Army for years (I know because I refused to work on the account), and will likely snag this account. This has to be the biggest "media monitoring" account in PR history. It will probably end like advertising maven Charlotte Beers' big budget project to improve America's image in the Middle East.
Another Mission Impossible. With that in mind, maybe the battle tested Edelman can snag this based on their work for that other losing war -- Walmart vs. the US.