Posted by Amanda Chapel
A Review of "The Truth About Spin"
I once shacked up with a TV news anchor here in Chicago. In exchange for a little nookie, I bathed in the halo of minor celebrity for a while. We always had the best table at the finest restaurants. There were tickets to the playoffs. There were the subtle looks of jealousy from other women. It made me Queen of the Agency. I loved it. He got beaners (definition: hummers but you don't hum). I fed him client stories. It was the perfect marriage of PR and the Media.
Hold that thought. I'll be back to it. I was reminded of narcissistic "life is all about Mark" the other day while reading an article in the Financial Times, "The Truth About Spin." Author John Lloyd discusses the PR/Media relationship... where we are today, how we got here and what's next.
Lloyd sets up his opinion piece with a quick interpretation of the trend(s). Two actually: First, he concludes that it used to be that lying was one sided. Now both PR and jounos have agendas. Second, with the rise of political correctness, the public is most unkind to frank discourse. As such, PR today is the necessary evil. "Hypocrisy becomes the price executive authority pays to political correctness; the payment is made by public relations."
He then adroitly grounds his argument in an ideal:
That's so very romantic. The model he depicts is an extension of the PR pat phrase "the court of public opinion." However, the image is terribly flawed. PR is frankly lawless. A better analogy would be the snake-oil hawker on the midway. Journs are the cops that make sure the hawker doesn't go as far as to pick the pockets of retards, children, old ladies and such.
Anyway, Lloyd's article then takes a regrettable turn. He tries to justify the current situation.
He uses the above to advocate some cockamamie notion (Julia Hobsbawm's Editorial Intelligence) that since things are generally so fucked up that PR and media should actually deepen their relationship and more formally foster cooperation.
COLLECTIVE GASP! It was like watching a world-class gymnast completely blow the landing and his Achilles heel. I imagine Lloyd being consoled by his coach. A life of training nullified in a moment. The agony of defeat. His career, over. He may never walk again.
Here, let me clarify and set the record straight:
The fifth estate has lost a lot of its once total power. That's fact. So much so that Richard Edelman, CEO of the world's largest independent PR firm (that bears his name), boldly proclaimed a month ago that the media "wasn't God anymore." Because of the realities of the internet, PR can now circumvent its filters.
As much as PR might cheer that as a triumph, for those who cherish an ordered democracy it's a sure sign of the apocalypse. In "Would you like your news spun or opinionated?" (The Telegraph, 22/11/05), Roy Greenslade writes, "This (trend) is an overt admission that the 21st-century press columnist has greater power than the reporter. Commentators have now assumed greater importance than reporters, standing on its head C P Scott's famous dictum about comment being free while facts are sacred. In modern terms, it would appear that comment is indispensable while facts are incidental."
Image a world without fact. Imagine relying on Jeremy Pepper, Scott Baradell, Phil Gomes, Gregory Kohs, Mike Krempasky, Michael Driehorst, or Robert French, to help make up one's mind whether to have the operation or not. Silly. Is it? Take the world they advocate and extend it out some. That's scary.
Okay, let's dispense with the PR hooey and set the record straight. If there is anything beneficial that can be gleaned from the "court" analogy, it's the necessity of the adversarial nature of the legal system. It is an essential dynamic and anything less than that in all likelihood is tantamount to attorney malpractice. To loosen journalistic standards to accommodate the modern media condition is more than surrender. It is an assault on the public interest.
Truth is, I never shacked up with an anchor. Sure, I fooled around with Mark, a lot! But bottom line, there is no self-respecting newsman or woman that would even consider that public pairing. It absolutely would be "sleeping with the enemy."
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Figured I'd throw you a comment, since so few seem to do so any more.
Just wanted to say that I enjoy how you keep mentioning me in your blog, lumping me (a marketing research practitioner) in with your "most wanted" list of public relations consultants. It's especially ironic to be mentioned again and again, considering the numerous e-mails you once sent me, demanding that I never communicate with you again (you interpreted "debate" as "harassment"), and likewise threatening legal action against my employer. I've got to say, though, it sure did wonders for your (and my) blog traffic stats. But that was then.
How are your Alexa stats or the Google PageRank numbers looking now? Ah, nevermind, I'll answer for you:
Over the past week, Alexa says Strumpette.com is garnering a daily reach of about 12 visitors per million Internet users. Put in relative terms, your traffic beat out Baradell's "IdeaGrove.com" on only 2 of the past 10 days. Google PageRank gives Strumpette.com a 0 out of 10.
Feel free to keep mentioning me, though. So few people are reading any more, I don't see the harm.
Gregory you're such a meaningless little asshole.
Not to give your fucked-up comparison any credence but Baradell's been doing this for how long? Strumpette just started for Christ's sake.
With regard to traffic, we are averaging about 1,350 visitors a day. It took Rubel a year to reach that. We've been doing this for 3 weeks.
So go pay for a girlfriend and harass her.
Hi Amanda, where do you draw the line when using sex to win a contract. My blog today tells of a woman of 54 who married a famous musician of 101. She's pretty strange, refused to see her son when he flew to her house in the South of France. Do you know anyone strange like that?
Ellee dear! How are you?
With regard to using sex to sell a contract... that is a delicate subject. Frankly, giving it away too much on the frontend discounts the sale. Ergo, people that live together seldom marry. If you're used to getting the milk for free, why pay for it?
Sorry, that's not very helpful advice.
For the record, I've slept with a few clients in my career but well after they were clients.