This just into the newsroom... Mark Weiner, President of Delahaye, the research division of Bacon’s Information Inc., one of the world's leading media stalking, spam monitoring and victim evaluation companies, made a startling announcement late last week that is sure to send shockwaves throughout the PR Industry, as well as raise the question of PR liability.
According to the press announcement: "Financial performance proves to be a strong driver of both corporate reputation and volatility in the media, according to the Delahaye Index, a quarterly study of how news coverage reflects and helps to shape the corporate reputations of the 100 largest U.S. companies."
That's not all. This quarter, the Index also uncovered a few things totally unexpected: ""Just as corporate reputation is bolstered by positive news coverage, the Index results also demonstrated the impact of negative financial news. Third quarter results revealed a growing number of companies who suffered at the hands of negative news due to poor financial performance."
Weiner stated, “Since initiating the Delahaye Index in 2002, we have seen the importance of financial news in shaping a corporation’s reputation in the media. The extreme volatility of our third-quarter results indicates just how powerful a driver financial performance is to both positive and negative effects.”
For the record, in PR this is called the water-is-wet press release. Why Wet? Well, not to get too technical but, basically... water is wet so that fish and other ocean, lake and river creatures can move with relative ease. More importantly, we wouldn't be able to drink if water weren't wet. And of course, if water weren't wet, we would NOT be able to flush our toilets. Say no more.
Seriously, water is wet because it is; that's all. Delahaye's release is a total and utterly vacuous Werner Erhard platitude, "Is... is."
But even there, Weiner is NOT going to stick his neck out. Delayaye equivocates. Performance is a "strong" driver. Just in case this whole performance as a driver thing goes south, Weiner has given himself some wiggle room.
Here, this is the problem. PR has strayed from its essential value proposition. See, in the past, the media gave us column space if we gave them news. So, what we did in PR was hold countless billable meetings whose sole purpose was to create the right news to carry client-positive messages. That was the transaction. And if you came to the media with no news, publication inappropriate news or just overly gratuitous news, they would not so graciously tell you to "go scratch."
Now that's changed. If Bacon's (Delahaye's parent company) is going to blast a release out to 10 gazillion people, let alone that one can just put the a release on the Internet, well hell... we can now write whatever we damn well please. As such, we barely need to fake fake news anymore.
The downside of this new flimflam-freedom is that it likely exposes the perp to some liability. See in the case of Delahaye, they tricked me (and countless others) and subsequently took my time. They told me they had news which apparently they did not.
As such, Mark, your company owes me $300. My rate is $400/hr. and you took 3/4 of an hour of my time. Not that it took that amount of time to read the release. It took that amount of time for the hoax to stop pinging around the inside of my brain.