NYT: In Case of Emergency: What Not to Do

The New York Times uses BP as a reason to weigh in on the practice of public relations. A couple of the money quotes:

Eric Dezenhall, a communications strategist in Washington who worked in the White House for President Ronald Reagan, argues that the standard playbook is useless when the facts are sufficiently distasteful. …

Mr. Dezenhall is particularly scornful of the classic imperative to “get out in front of the story,” as if swift disclosure provides inoculation against all ugly realities. When the facts are horrible, he argues, the best P.R. fix may simply be to absorb the pounding and get back to business, while eschewing the sort of foolish communications gimmicks that can make things worse. …

“BP could apologize every day,” says Keith Michael Hearit, a communications professor at Western Michigan University. “They could have a situation where the C.E.O. goes on an environmental pilgrimage and falls on his knees going up a mountain, and it wouldn’t do them any good. Until the oil stopped, there was nothing that could be done to make it better, but there was plenty that could be said to make it worse.”

Great Moments in Journalism XXVI

Ahhhh, Russia. It is so quaint how you are always 30 60 years behind us. If you were watching cable news here in the states on Monday morning, it was nearly impossible to avoid updates on the Moscow subway bombing. In Russia, not so much. As the New York Times reported, “Channel 1, a main government station, reported briefly on the attacks at 8:30 a.m., a half-hour after the first blast, but did not mention them again until noon.”

Why?, you may ask. Because, according to Channel 1’s Larisa L. Krymova, updates were unnecessary: “The majority of people who are not journalists leave the house before 9 in the morning. After that, the majority of people who watch TV are housewives.”

NYT Article Starts the PR Dominos Falling

Metzger’s Doyle Albee analyzes tech/business blogger Dave Taylor’s response to TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington’s rant about a New York Times profile of publicist Brooke Hammerling.

(If you feel like you need a scorecard to keep it all straight, let me see if I can help: Hammerling represents the social/flitty/vapid approach to PR that infuriates Arrington, who is a cranky purist who thinks that PR [and perhaps all marketing] interferes with the natural selection that should determine whether products succeed or fail. Meanwhile, Taylor is a realist who thinks Arrington needs to acknowledge that there is a role for PR to play, and Albee thinks we shouldn’t extrapolate too much from this Hammerling scenario because one example of ineffective PR doesn’t mean all PR is ineffective.)