From: 'Amanda Chapel'
Sent: Wed, 7-25-07, 11:58 AM
To: Janet Tyler, President, Airfoil; Andy Getsey, Co–founder/CEO, Atomic PR; Margery Kraus, President/CEO, APCO Worldwide; Neal Cohen, CEO/North America, APCO Worldwide; Brad Staples, CEO/Europe, APCO Worldwide; John Bliss, Principal, Bliss, Gouverneur & Associates; Andrea Coville, CEO, Brodeur; Harry Burson, Burson-Marsteller; Mark Penn, President & CEO, Burson Marsteller; Ken Eudy, CEO, Capstrat; Doug Spong, President, Carmichael Lynch Spong; Joel Curran, SVP and managing director, CKPR; Jens Bang, President/CEO, Cone; Andy Cooper Principal, CooperKatz & Company, Inc.; Thomas Coyne, President/CEO, Coyne PR; Barbara Bates, Co-Founder and Principal, Eastwick; Elaine Cummings, Co-Founder and Principal, Eastwick; Richard Edelman, CEO, Edelman PR; Rick Murray, President, Me2Revolution; David Brain, CEO Europe, Edelman PR; Dave Senay, CEO, Fleishman-Hillard Inc.; Lisa Sepulveda, CEO, Euro RSCG Magnet; Declan Kelly, President & CEO, Financial Dynamics; Cos M. Mallozzi, President and CEO, Gibbs & Soell PR; Fred Cook, President and CEO, Golin/Harris International; Greg Matusky, president, Gregory FCA Communications; Paul Taaffe, CEO, Hill and Knowlton; Sabrina Horn, President, Horn Group; Shannon Latta, Partner, Horn Group; Kevin Lynch, principal and founding partner, HLB Communications; David Gallagher, CEO, Ketchum/London; Chris Lewis, CEO, Lewis PR; Ken Makovsky, President Makovsky + Company; Margaret Booth, President, M Booth & Associates; Mark Hass, CEO, Manning Selvage & Lee; Michael Kempner, CEO, MWW Group; Tim Dyson, CEO, Next Fifteen; Marcia Silverman, CEO, Ogilvy PR Worldwide; Lynn Casey, CEO, Padilla Speer Beardsley; Steve Cody, Managing Partner & Co-Founder, Peppercom; Helen Ostrowski, CEO, Porter Novelli; Michael Petruzzello, Managing Partner, Qorvis; Peter Finn, CEO, Ruder Finn; Steve Schwartz, President and CEO, Schwartz Communications; Todd Defren, Principal, SHIFT Communications; Marc Hausman, President and CEO, Strategic Communications; Tony Signore, CEO, Taylor; Aedhmar Hines, CEO, Text 100; Lou Hoffman, President, The Hoffman Agency; Tony Sapienza, Partner, Topaz Partners; Paula Slotkin, Partner, Topaz Partners; Richard Cline, Founder and President, Voce Communications; Frank Shaw, President, Waggener Edstrom Worldwide; Harris Diamond, CEO, Weber Shandwick; Scott Widmeyer, Chairman, Widmeyer Communications, Inc.; Joe Clayton, President & CEO, Widmeyer Communications
Subject: An Open Letter to the Leadership of the PR Industry
Where are you?!! Listen... we had a Call to Action last week where we invited a number of you here to a critical debate about the future of our business. Not one showed up.
WELL, WE'RE ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGED! While there's a growing cancer in our industry, you (plural) seem bent on lining your pockets almost exclusively. Regrettably, a number of your peers are involved in activities that will surely kill our business. And when it goes to hell and you make off with your millions, we are the ones who will be left holding the bag.
Here... connect these dots: Edelman is out doing back flips trying to reduce us to direct marketers; the president of one of the leading "PR 2.0" firms says he cannot see a difference between PR and advertising anymore; there's a whole sub culture now in our business that's presently throwing communications expertise out the window and replacing it with base SEO techniques; you've got Hines proselytizing that we embrace the cartoon that is Second Life; you've got Kempner leading the way for us to legitimize blog bribery. And how 'bout the mainstream biz? You've got Torossian boasting about Girls Gone Wild, taking us from the "lying profession" to porn marketing services. It's unbelievable.
It all raises two simple questions: What won't you do for a dollar? Or preferably, when will you stand up?
Bottom line, the business has never been more pathetic and you are endorsing it with your silence. Used to be that once a year or so a major paper would variously satirize us; today, on Strumpette, there's something daily. Frankly, we cannot keep up.
IT'S TIME FOR A CHANGE! Help us end the silence. Speak up now or forever hold you peace. We invite you to join us the concerned majority in an effort to reestablish the respected professional discipline of PR. No more obfuscation. We'd like each of you to stand up and show your support and especially your smarts.
TELL US! What should we do and how do you personally plan to lead us there?
Crisis communications and crisis management should be the crowning achievement of the PR world – it shows the ability of the PR professional to take charge of a potentially explosive situation and effectively defuse it. And, indeed, there are many sterling examples of crisis communications efforts (the most notably being the 1982 Tylenol tampering crisis).
But at the same time, too much crisis communications is reactive and not proactive. The PR person is often the last to know something has gone very wrong – and the reason for that is because of what was stated earlier about the lack of access to the C-Suite. In this case, it is a double-edged problem.
For the PR professional, who is not considered an equal to the others at the C-Suite table, it means having to work overtime (literally and figuratively) to put out the fires created by a crisis. And for the executives in the C-Suite, who are unaware of what the PR professional can provide to their mission (see last week’s Gospel), it exposes them a multitude of problems (ranging from tarnished images to criminal investigation and all points in between).
"PR professionals need to convince the C-Suite, especially the General Counsel, that they must understand that news is controversy and controversy is news,” says Steve Ellis, senior vice president with Levick Strategic Communications in Washington, DC. “Crisis management to a large extent is news management. If you do not understand news, you cannot manage a crisis. To extrapolate: if a company, organization or country does not understand news, the people running these entities will fail. It’s that simple.”
Mike Paul, president of MGP & Associates in New York, believes that most corporations only consider reputation management as a reaction to a crisis, rather than as a proactive process to stave off potential problems. “Indeed, crisis preparedness is not usually at the forefront of corporate communications planning,” he says. “Ironically, it should be because more and more corporations are facing reputations in crisis because of unethical, immoral and legal behavior of executives within the corporate world. Just open your daily newspaper and count the dozens of stories highlighting corporate misdeeds.”
Paul continues: “Truth, transparency, accountability, humility and consistency are the building blocks or reputation bricks for a corporation. A corporation is made up of many individuals. These rules are for executives, employees and support staff. They are easy to talk about, but difficult to consistently put into practice because of deceitful human behavior.”
At the New York agency Peppercom, an in-house crisis communications program called CARES is used for crisis in need of such assistance. The CARES acronym stands for Composure and collection of information, Assessment, Reaction, Evaluation and Success (okay, we’ll forgive them for stretching that “C” a bit).
“CARES has been effectively implemented for Peppercom clients of all sizes to create realistic and logical processes to follow during and after the onset of a crisis,” explains Ted Birkhahn, managing director at Peppercom. “CARES also provides a true measuring stick by which these crisis management processes and actions can be continually improved after a crisis takes place, allowing for quick modification, if necessary.”
Birkhahn points out that his agency delivers a three-part crisis training-drill-assessment program to prepare senior executives and crisis teams for any crisis situation. This includes a mock-crisis situation (which creates a two-to-three-hour imaginary crisis scenario that is captured on videotape), which is then followed by a diagnostic review of that mock-crisis that results in a professional assessment and recommendation of where improvement may be needed.
“We carefully review the video, process, notes taken by the team, their assessment of how well they did and our own ongoing assessment,” explains Birkahn. “This would showcase a gap that might exist on how well they think they are prepared but really aren’t. Through our assessment, our deliverable is to present ‘the good, bad and ugly’ of how well the team did and to provide detailed recommendations (being consistent with client procedures) to the team the next day. These recommendations would actually be presented in a three-ring binder. Based upon the crisis team’s actual handling of the simulated crisis, we will also present them with a fictitious end-result that occurred (i.e. an article, directive from within the company, etc.), so they can truly understand how their actions led to something good, bad or nothing at all.”
The day after that mock-crisis, Birkhahn and his team holds a strategic training session to review specific findings, offer recommendations and then offer training tips on how the crisis should be handled the next time around. That can last from three to four hours.
As you may gather, that level of in-depth crisis training requires time, energy and the full cooperation of senior management. For the PR professionals who can obtain all of that, the end result could be invaluable. For those who cannot, however…well, let’s just say it might be helpful to have a clean rag ready in the event the fan gets hit with you-know-what.
(Phil Hall is the former president of Open City Communications, a New York PR agency, and former editor of PR News. His latest book "The New PR" will be released later this year from Larstan Publishing.)
On Thursday, March 8, 2007 at 7:41 AM, Ronn Torossian, President and CEO of 5WPR, emphatically promised that he was going to sue us. No real reason, he was just irritated by our teasing him about getting in bed with pornographer Joe Francis. Anyway, Ronn gave his obscenity-laced word that we'd see the complaint in 72 hours. It's now late by
Kathleen Durazo about A Measly $2.8 Million Goes Missing, Lawsuit Results Fri, Jul 31, 10:58:34 AM Ray Durazo (the founder) sold the company to Dan in 1999. He was not involved in any of this. He (and I) found out about the lawsuit in the LA Times. In addition to embezzling this m [...]