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  • There are four typical goals for public relations communications: to inform, to persuade, to motivate, and to build mutual understanding. Based on the e-Activity, explain in detail which goal or goals you think the campaign was reaching for and how the campaign tried to achieve them. E-activity:Research on the Internet a recent public relations campaign with wide media exposure and evaluate its goal or goals.
  • Chapter 3 discusses a number of traditional and contemporary theories of communication. Choose one of these theories and explain in detail how this theory can guide a public relations campaign. Based on the e-Activity, provide at least one example of how this theory has been used in a current public relations campaign. E-activity:Research on the Internet a current public relations campaign which applies any one of the theories of communication covered in Chapter 3.

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THE PRACTICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS ELEVENTH EDITION Fraser P. Seitel Managing Partner, Emerald Partners Senior Counselor, Burson-Marsteller Adjunct Professor, New York University ISBN 0-558-55519-5 Visiting Professor, Florida International University Prentice Hall Boston Columbus Indianapolis New York San Francisco Upper Saddle River Amsterdam Cape Town Dubai London Madrid Milan Munich Paris Montreal Toronto Delhi Mexico City Sao Paulo Sydney Hong Kong Seoul Singapore Taipei Tokyo The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. Editorial Director: Sally Yagan Editor in Chief: Eric Svendsen Acquisitions Editor: Melissa Sabella Product Development Manager: Ashley Santora Editorial Project Manager: Kierra Kashickey Director of Marketing: Patrice Lumumba Jones Marketing Manager: Anne Fahlgren Senior Marketing Assistant: Melinda Jensen Senior Managing Editor: Judy Leale Project Manager: Becca Richter Senior Operations Supervisor: Arnold Vila Operations Specialist: Ilene Kahn Creative Director: Christy Mahon Senior Art Director: Janet Slowik Art Director: Steve Frim Interior and Cover Designer: Frubilicious Design Group Manager, Visual Research: Beth Brenzel Manager, Rights and Permissions: Zina Arabia Image Permission Coordinator: Craig Jones Manager, Cover Visual Research & Permissions: Karen Sanatar Cover Photo: White House Photo by Pete Souza Permissions Project Manager: Shannon Barbe Media Project Manager, Editorial: Denise Vaughn Media Project Manager, Production: Lisa Rinaldi Supplements Editor: Kierra Kashickey Full-Service Project Management: BookMasters, Inc. Composition: Integra Software Services, Ltd. Printer/Binder: Courier/Kendalville Cover Printer: Coral Graphic Text Font: 11/12 Apollo MT Notice: This work is protected by U.S. copyright laws and is provided solely for the use of college instructors in reviewing course materials for classroom use. Dissemination or sale of this work, or any part (including on the World Wide Web) is not permitted. Credits and acknowledgments borrowed from other sources and reproduced, with permission, in this textbook appear on appropriate page within text. Copyright © 2011, 2007, 2004, 2001 Pearson Education, Inc., publishing as Prentice Hall, One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458. All rights reserved. Manufactured in the United States of America. This publication is protected by Copyright, and permission should be obtained from the publisher prior to any prohibited reproduction, storage in a retrieval system, or transmission in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or likewise. To obtain permission(s) to use material from this work, please submit a written request to Pearson Education, Inc., Permissions Department, One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458. Many of the designations by manufacturers and seller to distinguish their products are claimed as trademarks. Where those designations appear in this book, and the publisher was aware of a trademark claim, the designations have been printed in initial caps or all caps. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Seitel, Fraser P. The practice of public relations / Fraser P. Seitel.—11th ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN-13: 978-0-13-608890-5 (pbk.) ISBN-10: 0-13-608890-2 (pbk.) 1. Public relations—United States. I. Title. HM1221.S45 2011 659.2—dc22 2009044076 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 ISBN 10: 0-13-608890-2 ISBN 13: 978-0-13-608890-5 Part 1 Evolution (Chapters 1, 2) Part 2 Preparation/Process (Chapters 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8) Part 3 Part 4 The Publics (Chapters 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14) Execution (Chapters 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20) Chapter 1 ISBN 0-558-55519-5 What Is Public Relations, Anyway? The face of the practice of public relations in the final years of the first decade of the 21st century could be found beneath the faux-blue and yellow Mohawk hairdo, lovingly displayed here (Figure 1-1). In 2007, Sanjaya Malakar, a 17-year-old aspiring, ahem, “singer” from Seattle burst onto the national spotlight as a semifinalist on season six of the nation’s hottest TV show, American Idol. According to the judges, Sanjaya’s singing was, well, “horrible.” But that didn’t stop the ever-upbeat performer from moving steadily up the Idol charts.1 Sanjaya’s ascent was largely due to the confluence of emerging social media with traditional public relations techniques. Specifically, his underdog cause was championed by radio commentators, cable TV pundits, and newspaper reporters, generating a tidal wave of publicity. This was followed by perpetual Internet chatter and ultimately, enough Net-recorded public votes to enable him to advance to seventh place, despite being pilloried by the on-air judges, particularly the repugnant Simon Cowell. Sanjaya’s unlikely national celebrity was a crystal clear illustration of the potential power of marrying social media with public relations. In the 21st century, few societal forces are more powerful than either social media—the agglomeration of instant messages, email, cell phone photos, blogs, wikis, Web casting, RSS feeds, and all the other emerging technologies of the World Wide Web—or the practice of public relations. Together, the combination of the two—social media and public relations—has revolutionized the FIGURE 1-1 Social media idol. Sanjaya Malakar, 21st century offspring of the marriage of social media and public relations. (Photo: Newscom) way organizations and individuals communicate to their key constituent publics around the world. Not convinced? Well, how about asking Osama bin Laden (Figure 1-2)? In the fall of 2007, after a public absence of three years (during which many thought he was dead!), the world’s most wanted felon reemerged on the Internet in a public relations video. Abandoning his trademark Kalashnikov rifle and camouflage military jacket and dyeing his beard from grey to black, the leader of al-Qaeda presented a new image to the world. In a half-hour address released four days before the sixth anniversary of the September 11 attacks on the United States, bin Laden lurched between history lesson and sermon, urging Americans to ditch capitalist democracy and embrace Islam if they wanted to end the war in Iraq.2 Bin Laden’s address was memorable not only because of the terrorist’s bizarre appearance, but also because he chose to “stage his comeback” through a public relations video on the Internet. The speech itself sounded like more of a political treatise than a call for annihilation of the infidels. 1 The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 2 Part 1 Evolution Bin Laden rambled across religion, history, domestic U.S. politics, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, throwing in climate change and even referring to the current crisis over bad mortgage loans in the United States. How bizarre. The terrorist leader’s attempt to restyle himself as a civilian leader and ideologist, rather than a zealous mass murderer, served as a prime example of using public relations methods and techniques to recast an image. Indeed, al-Qaeda at the time was evolving from a centrally controlled terrorist organization to a more loosely configured body of local operatives. So the al-Qaeda chief’s look and demeanor were meant to express this evolution. The point is that in the 21st century, even terrorists understood the impact of public relations messages and the reach of the World Wide Web to deliver them. But what is public relations, anyway? That is the question asked even by many of the 200,000 plus people in the United States and the thousands of others overseas who practice public relations. In a society overwhelmed by communications—from traditional newspapers and magazines, to 24/7 talk radio and television, to nontraditional instant messages, blogs, podcasts, wikis, and assorted other Internet exotica—the public is bombarded with nonstop messages of every variety. The challenge for a communicator is to cut through this clutter to deliver an argument that is persuasive, believable, and actionable. The answer, more often than not today, lies in public relations. Stated another way, in the 21st century, the power, value, and influence of the practice of public relations have never been greater. The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 FIGURE 1-2 Social media madman. Osama bin Laden took to the Internet on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11 to reach his followers around the world, six years after the awful strikes on America. (Photo: Newscom) Chapter 1 What Is Public Relations, Anyway? 3 Prominence of Public Relations In the initial decade of the 21st century, public relations as a field has grown immeasurably both in numbers and in respect. Today, the practice of public relations is clearly a growth industry. 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 ISBN 0-558-55519-5 쏋 In the United States alone, public relations is a multibillion-dollar business practiced by 158,000 professionals, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Furthermore, the Bureau says that “employment of public relations specialists is expected to increase faster than the average for all occupations through 2012. The need for good public relations in an increasingly competitive business environment should spur demand for public relations specialists in organizations of all types and sizes.”3 Around the world, the practice of public relations has grown enormously. The International Public Relations Association boasts a strong membership, and the practice flourishes from Latin America to Africa and from Europe to Russia to China. In a 2005 study by the Council of the Public Relations Society of America and Harris Interactive to assess the views of Fortune 1000 company executives on public relations, 84 percent felt the practice helped “raise awareness about important issues that the public might not know about,” and 81 percent felt public relations helped “get the media to address issues that would otherwise fail to receive the attention they deserve.”4 Approximately 250 colleges and universities in the United States and many more overseas offer a public relations sequence or degree program. Many more offer public relations courses. Undergraduate enrollments in public relations programs at U.S. four-year colleges and universities are conservatively estimated to be well in excess of 20,000 majors.5 In the vast majority of college journalism programs, public relations sequences rank first or second in enrollment. The U.S. government has thousands of communications professionals— although none, as we will learn, are labeled public relations specialists—who keep the public informed about the activities of government agencies and officials. The Department of Defense alone has 7,000 professional communicators spread out among the Army, Navy, and Air Force. The world’s largest public relations firms are all owned by media conglomerates— among them Omnicom, The Interpublic Group, and WPP Group—which refuse to divulge public relations revenues. The field is dominated by smaller, privately held firms, many of them entrepreneurial operations. A typical public relations agency has annual revenue of less than $1 million with less than 10 employees. Nonetheless, the 7,000 U.S. public relations agencies record annual revenue of more than $6 billion.6 The field’s primary trade associations have strong membership, with the Public Relations Society of America encompassing nearly 20,000 members in 116 chapters and the International Association of Business Communicators including 13,000 members in more than 60 countries. In the 21st century, as all elements of society—companies, nonprofits, governments, religious institutions, sports teams and leagues, arts organizations, and all others—wrestle with constant shifts in economic conditions and competition, The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 4 Part 1 Evolution security concerns, and popular opinion, the public relations profession is expected to thrive because increasing numbers of organizations are interested in communicating their stories. Indeed, public relations people have already attained positions of prominence in every aspect of society. Robert Gibbs, President Barack Obama’s Press Secretary (see “From the Top,” Chapter 12), is quoted daily from his televised White House press briefings. Karen Hughes, a public relations advisor to George W. Bush since his earliest days in politics, moved from a Special Assistant to the President in the White House to become, in 2005, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy (see Case Study Chapter 14), responsible primarily for changing attitudes internationally about the United States (although she didn’t do very well!). That same year, the UPS Company appointed communications professional Christine Owens to its management committee. Said CEO Mike Eskew, “Communications is just too important not to be represented on the management committee of this company.”7 Perhaps the most flattering aspect of the field’s heightened stature is that competition from other fields has become more intense. Today the profession finds itself vulnerable to encroachment by people with non–public relations backgrounds, such as lawyers, marketers, and general managers of every type, all eager to gain the management access and persuasive clout of the public relations professional. The field’s strength stems from its roots: “a democratic society where people have freedom to debate and to make decisions—in the community, the marketplace, the home, the workplace, and the voting booth. Private and public organizations depend on good relations with groups and individuals whose opinions, decisions, and actions affect their vitality and survival.”8 What Is Public Relations? Public relations is a planned process to influence public opinion, through sound character and proper performance, based on mutually satisfactory two-way communication. At least that’s what your author believes it is. The fact is that there are many different definitions of public relations. American historian Robert Heilbroner once described the field as “a brotherhood of some 100,000, whose common bond is its profession and whose common woe is that no two of them can ever quite agree on what that profession is.”9 In 1923, the late Edward Bernays described the function of his fledgling public relations counseling business as one of providing information given to the public, persuasion directed at the public to modify attitudes and actions, and efforts to integrate attitudes and actions of an institution with its publics and of publics with those of that institution.10 Public relations is a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communications, understanding, acceptance, and cooperation between an organization and its publics; involves the management The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 Today, although a generally accepted definition of public relations still eludes practitioners, there is a clearer understanding of the field. One of the most ambitious searches for a universal definition was commissioned in 1975 by the Foundation for Public Relations Research and Education. Sixty-five public relations leaders participated in the study, which analyzed 472 different definitions and offered the following 88-word sentence: Chapter 1 What Is Public Relations, Anyway? 5 of problems or issues; helps management to keep informed on and responsive to public opinion; defines and emphasizes the responsibility of management to serve the public interest; helps management keep abreast of and effectively utilize change, serving as an early warning system to help anticipate trends; and uses research and sound and ethical communication techniques as its principal tools.11 In 1988, the Public Relations Society of America formally adopted the following definition of public relations: Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other. The Public Relations Society noted that its definition implied the functions of research, planning, communications dialogue, and evaluation, all essential in the practice of public relations.12 No matter which formal definition one settles on to describe the practice, in order to be successful, public relations professionals must always engage in a planned process to influence the attitudes and actions of their targets. Planned Process to Influence Public Opinion What is the process through which public relations might influence public opinion? Communications professor John Marston suggested a four-step model based on specific functions: (1) research, (2) action, (3) communication, and (4) evaluation.13 Whenever a public relations professional is faced with an assignment—whether promoting a client’s product or defending a client’s reputation—he or she should apply Marston’s R-A-C-E approach: ISBN 0-558-55519-5 1. Research. Research attitudes about the issue at hand. 2. Action. Identify action of the client in the public interest. 3. Communication. Communicate that action to gain understanding, acceptance, and support. 4. Evaluation. Evaluate the communication to see if opinion has been influenced. The key to the process is the second step—action. You can’t have effective communication or positive publicity without proper action. Stated another way, performance must precede publicity. Act first and communicate later. Indeed, some might say that public relations—PR—really should stand for performance recognition. In other words, positive action communicated straightforwardly will yield positive results. This is the essence of the R-A-C-E process of public relations. Public relations professor Sheila Clough Crifasi has proposed extending the R-A-C-E formula into the five-part R-O-S-I-E to encompass a more managerial approach to the field. R-O-S-I-E prescribes sandwiching the functions of objectives, strategies, and implementation between research and evaluation. Indeed, setting clear objectives, working from set strategies, and implementing a predetermined plan is a key to sound public relations practice. Still others suggest a process called R-P-I-E for research, planning, implementation, and evaluation, which emphasizes the element of planning as a necessary step preceding the activation of a communications initiative. The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 6 Part 1 Evolution All three approaches, R-A-C-E, R-O-S-I-E, and R-P-I-E, echo one of the most widely repeated definitions of public relations, developed by the late Denny Griswold, who founded a public relations newsletter. Public relations is the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.14 The key words in this definition are management and action. Public relations, if it is to serve the organization properly, must report to top management. Public relations must serve as an honest broker to management, unimpeded by any other group. For public relations to work, its advice to management must be unfiltered, uncensored, and unexpurgated. This is often easier said than done because many public relations departments report through marketing, advertising, or even legal departments. Nor can public relations take place without appropriate action. As noted, no amount of communications—regardless of its persuasive content—can save an organization whose performance is substandard. In other words, if the action is flawed or the performance rotten, no amount of communicating or backtracking or post facto posturing will change the reality. (Don’t believe me? Check out the Don Imus Case Study at the end of this chapter!) Stated another way, it is axiomatic in public relations that ”You can’t pour perfume on a skunk.” The process of public relations, then, as Professor Melvin Sharpe has put it, ”harmonizes long-term relationships among individuals and organizations in society.”15 To “harmonize,” Professor Sharpe applies five principles to the public relations process: 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 Honest communication for credibility Openness and consistency of actions for confidence Fairness of actions for reciprocity and goodwill Continuous two-way communication to prevent alienation and to build relationships Environmental research and evaluation to determine the actions or adjustments needed for social harmony And if that doesn’t yet give you a feel for what precisely the practice of public relations is, then consider public relations Professor Janice Sherline Jenny’s description as ”the management of communications between an organization and all entities that have a direct or indirect relationship with the organization, i.e., its publics.” No matter what definition one may choose to explain the practice, few would argue that the goal of effective public relations is to harmonize internal and external relationships so that an organization can enjoy not only the goodwill of all of its publics but also stability and long life. Public Relations as Management Interpreter The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 The late Leon Hess, who ran one of the nation’s largest oil companies and the New York Jets football team, used to pride himself on not having a public relations department. Mr. Hess, a very private individual, abhorred the limelight for himself and for his company. But times have changed. Today, the CEO who thunders, ”I don’t need public relations!” is a fool. He or she doesn’t have a choice. Every organization has public relations whether it wants it or Chapter 1 What Is Public Relations, Anyway? 7 not. The trick is to establish good public relations. That’s what this book is all about— professional public relations, the kind you must work at. Public relations affects almost everyone who has contact with other human beings. All of us, in one way or another, practice public relations daily. For an organization, every phone call, every letter, every face-to-face encounter, is a public relations event. Public relations professionals, then, are really the organization’s interpreters. 쏋 쏋 On the one hand, they must interpret the philosophies, policies, programs, and practices of their management to the public. On the other hand, they must convey the attitudes of the public to their management. Let’s consider management first. Before public relations professionals can gain attention, understanding, acceptance, and ultimately action from target publics, they have to know what management is thinking. Good public relations can’t be practiced in a vacuum. No matter what the size of the organization, a public relations department is only as good as its access to management. For example, it’s useless for a senator’s press secretary to explain the reasoning behind an important decision without first knowing what the senator had in mind. So, too, an organization’s public relations staff is impotent without firsthand knowledge of the reasons for management’s decisions and the rationale for organizational policy. The public relations department in any organization can counsel management. It can advise management. It can even exhort management to take action. But it is management who must call the shots on organizational policy. It is the role of the public relations practitioner, once policy is established by management, to communicate these ideas accurately and candidly to the public. Anything less can lead to major problems. Public Relations as Public Interpreter Now let’s consider the flip side of the coin—the public. Interpreting the public to management means finding out what the public really thinks about the firm and letting management know. Regrettably, history is filled with examples of powerful institutions—and their public relations departments—failing to anticipate the true sentiments of the public. 쏋 ISBN 0-558-55519-5 쏋 쏋 In the 1960s, General Motors paid little attention to an unknown consumer activist named Ralph Nader, who spread the message that General Motors’ Corvair was “unsafe at any speed.” When Nader’s assault began to be believed, the automaker assigned professional detectives to trail him. In short order, General Motors was forced to acknowledge its act of paranoia, and the Corvair was eventually sacked at great expense to the company. In the 1970s, as both gasoline prices and oil company profits rose rapidly, the oil companies were besieged by an irate gas-consuming public. When, at the height of the criticism, Mobil Oil spent millions in excess cash to purchase the parent of the Montgomery Ward department store chain, the company was publicly battered for failing to cut its prices. In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan rode to power on the strength of his ability to interpret what was on the minds of the electorate. But his successor in the early 1990s, George H. W. Bush, a lesser communicator than Reagan, failed to The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 8 Part 1 Evolution 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 “read” the nation’s economic concerns. After leading America to a victory over Iraq in the Gulf War, President Bush failed to heed the admonition, “It’s the economy, stupid,” and lost the election to upstart Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton. As the 20th century ended, President Clinton forgot the candid communication skills that earned him the White House and lied to the American public about his affair with an intern. The subsequent scandal, ending in impeachment hearings before the U.S. Congress, tarnished Clinton’s administration, and ruined his legacy. In the first decade of the 21st century, Clinton’s successor, George W. Bush, earned great credit for strong actions and communications following the September 11, 2001, attacks on the nation. The Bush administration’s public relations then suffered when the ostensible reason for attacking Iraq—weapons of mass destruction—failed to materialize. Bush’s failure to act promptly and communicate frankly in subsequent crises, such as Hurricane Katrina, hurt his personal credibility and irreparably tarnished his administration. At the same time, CEOs of some of the nation’s mightiest corporations—among them Enron, Arthur Andersen, Tyco, Sotheby’s, and WorldCom—were dragged into court, and many imprisoned, for a variety of ethical violations that misled the public and in many cases ruined their companies. As a consequence, tough new laws were passed to deal with corporate criminals.16 In the spring and summer of 2008, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama waged a fierce and perpetual battle across the nation to win the Democratic nomination for president. That battle was largely based on the power of public relations (Figure 1-3). Obama emerged as the winner, and the new President promptly named his chief rival, Secretary of State. FIGURE 1-3 Sharing the bench. In the spring and summer of 2008, Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama staged a ferocious—but mostly civil—public relations battle for the Democrat Party presidential nomination. The latter wound up as President, and the former as Secretary of State. (White House Photo by Pete Souza) ISBN 0-558-55519-5 The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. Chapter 1 What Is Public Relations, Anyway? 9 쏋 The Obama Administration was met by a pervasive economic crisis, marked by another round of CEOs from the nation’s largest companies—Citigroup, AIG, Washington Mutual, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Countrywide Financial, and others—exposed before the American public as inept stewards of the public trust. PR Ethics In the first decade of the 21st century then, the savviest individuals and institutions— be they government, corporate, or nonprofit—understand the importance of effectively interpreting their philosophies, policies, and practices to the public and, even more important, interpreting back to management how the public views them and their organization. Mini-Case Shut Up, Dawg! Duane “Dog” Chapman, a bounty hunting ex-convict known for his long gold locks and brash behavior, was an instant cable sensation on the A&E network (Figure 1-4). Dog’s televised exploits, tracking down bail jumpers and law violators of every stripe, attracted 1.2 million viewers— most of them, young. His Dog The Bounty Hunter program brought in $17.7 million in advertising revenue in the first half of 2007 alone. But then Dog’s off-screen language got him into hot water. In November 2007, Mr. Chapman was recorded repeatedly using a racial slur in an obscenity-laced telephone tirade with his son, Tucker. Dog urged Tucker, one of his 12 children, to break up with his African American girlfriend, who Mr. Chapman feared might tell others about his frequent use of racist terms. He needn’t have worried. The recording of the conversation popped up on the National Enquirer Web site, leaked evidently by Tucker. And advertisers began heading for the exits. First, Yum Brands, Inc., owner of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut, pulled its ads, deploring Mr. Chapman’s “despicable” language. Other advertisers, among them such stalwarts as Johnson & Johnson and Alltel, threatened to act similarly in light of the perception of Dog as racist. A&E didn’t have to be told what to do. Two days after the phone call went public, the network released the following statement: ISBN 0-558-55519-5 “In evaluating the circumstances of the last few days, A&E has decided to take Dog The Bounty Hunter off the network’s schedule for the foreseeable future. We hope that Mr. Chapman continues the healing process that he has begun.” A&E stopped short of canceling outright the moneymaking program, shown in 10 countries. A&E hoped that, with time, its advertisers would forgive and forget Dog’s ethical lapse. Sure enough, with the power of Americans “to forgive and forget,” A&E brought back Dog The Bounty Hunter to bark another day.* FIGURE 1-4 Shut up, Dawg! Dog the Bounty Hunter and his lovely wife, Mrs. Dog. (Photo: Newscom) Questions 1. What other options did A&E have beyond suspending Chapman? 2. Should the network have taken him back? If so, under what “conditions”? *For further information, see Sam Schechner, “Bounty Hunter’s Slurs Halt A&E Show,” The Wall Street Journal, November 2, 2007, B4, and Jaymes Song, “A&E Pulls Bounty Hunter from Schedule Because of Dog’s Tirade,” Associated Press, November 2, 2007. The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 10 Part 1 Evolution The Publics of Public Relations The term public relations is really a misnomer. Publics relations, or relations with the publics, would be more to the point. Practitioners must communicate with many different publics—not just the general public—each having its own special needs and requiring different types of communication. Often the lines that divide these publics are thin, and the potential overlap is significant. Therefore, priorities, according to organizational needs, must always be reconciled (Figure 1-5). Technological change—particularly the Internet, cell phones, blogs, satellite links for television, and the computer in general—has brought greater interdependence to people and organizations, and there is growing concern in organizations today about managing extensive webs of interrelationships. Indeed, managers have become interrelationship conscious. Internally, managers must deal directly with various levels of subordinates as well as with cross-relationships that arise when subordinates interact with one another. Externally, managers must deal with a system that includes government regulatory agencies, labor unions, subcontractors, consumer groups, and many other FIGURE 1-5 Key publics. Twenty of the most important publics of a typical multinational corporation. Employee families Clerical employees Managers/ supervisors Board of directors Media Labor unions Stockholders Academic community Investment community Regulatory authorities MULTINATIONAL CORPORATION Competitors Federal, state, local legislators Suppliers Special interest groups Customers Dealers/ distributors Community neighbors Banks, insurers International community The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 Trade associations Chapter 1 What Is Public Relations, Anyway? 11 independent—but often related—organizations. The public relations challenge in all of this is to manage effectively the communications between managers and the various publics, which often pull organizations in different directions. Stated another way, public relations professionals are very much mediators between client (management) and public (all those key constituent groups on whom an organization depends). Definitions differ on precisely what constitutes a public. One time-honored definition states that a public arises when a group of people (1) faces a similar indeterminate situation, (2) recognizes what is indeterminate and problematic in that situation, and (3) organizes to do something about the problem.17 In public relations, more specifically, a public is a group of people with a stake in an issue, organization, or idea. Publics can also be classified into several overlapping categories: 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 Internal and external. Internal publics are inside the organization: supervisors, clerks, managers, stockholders, and the board of directors. External publics are those not directly connected with the organization: the press, government, educators, customers, suppliers, and the community. Primary, secondary, and marginal. Primary publics can most help—or hinder—the organization’s efforts. Secondary publics are less important, and marginal publics are the least important of all. For example, members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, who regulate banks, would be the primary public for a bank awaiting a regulatory ruling, whereas legislators and the general public would be secondary. On the other hand, to the investing public, interest rate pronouncements of the same Federal Reserve Board are of primary importance. Traditional and future. Employees and current customers are traditional publics; students and potential customers are future ones. No organization can afford to become complacent in dealing with its changing publics. Today, a firm’s publics range from women to minorities to senior citizens to homosexuals. Each might be important to the future success of the organization. Proponents, opponents, and the uncommitted. An institution must deal differently with those who support it and those who oppose it. For supporters, communications that reinforce beliefs may be in order. But changing the opinions of skeptics calls for strong, persuasive communications. Often, particularly in politics, the uncommitted public is crucial. Many a campaign has been decided because the swing vote was won over by one of the candidates. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 Another way of segmenting publics is on the basis of values and lifestyles. Such segmentation is used regularly by marketers to focus product and service appeals on particular socioeconomic levels. Segmentation separates consumers into eight distinct categories: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Actualizers are those with the most wealth and power. Fulfilleds have high resources and are principle-oriented professionals or retirees. Believers are Fulfilleds without the resources. Achievers have high resources and are status oriented. Strivers lack the resources of Achievers but are equally status oriented. Experiencers have high resources, are action oriented, and are disposed toward taking risks. 7. Makers also are action oriented but have low resources. 8. Strugglers have the lowest resources.18 The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 12 Part 1 Evolution Applying such lifestyle characterizations to publics can help companies make marketing and public relations decisions to effectively target key audiences. The typical organization is faced with a myriad of critical publics with which it must communicate on a frequent and direct basis. It must be sensitive to the self-interests, desires, and concerns of each public. It must understand that self-interest groups today are themselves more complex. Therefore, the harmonizing actions necessary to win and maintain support among such groups should be arrived at in terms of public relations consequences.19 Whereas management must always speak with one voice, its communications inflection, delivery, and emphasis should be sensitive to all constituent publics. The Functions of Public Relations There is a fundamental difference between the functions of public relations and the functions of marketing and advertising. Marketing and advertising promote a product or a service. Public relations promotes an entire organization. The functions associated with public relations work are numerous. Among them are the following: 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 쏋 The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 쏋 Writing—the fundamental public relations skill, with written vehicles from news releases to speeches and from brochures to advertisements falling within the field’s purview. Media relations—dealing with the press is another frontline public relations function. Planning—of special events, media events, management functions, and the like. Counseling—in dealing with management and its interactions with key publics. Researching—of attitudes and opinions that influence behavior and beliefs. Publicity—the marketing-related function, most commonly misunderstood as the “only” function of public relations, generating positive publicity for a client or employer. Marketing communications—other marketing-related functions, such as creating brochures, sales literature, meeting displays, and promotions. Community relations—positively putting forth the organization’s messages and image within the community. Consumer relations—interfacing with consumers through written and verbal communications. Employee relations—communicating with the all-important internal publics of the organization, those managers and employees who work for the firm. Government affairs—dealing with legislators, regulators, and local, state, and federal officials—all of those who have governmental interface with the organization. Investor relations—for public companies, communicating with stockholders and those who advise them. Special publics relations—dealing with those publics uniquely critical to particular organizations, from African Americans to women to Asians to senior citizens. Public affairs and issues—dealing with public policy and its impact on the organization, as well as identifying and addressing issues of consequence that affect the firm. Chapter 1 What Is Public Relations, Anyway? 13 쏋 Social media interface—creating what often is the organization’s principle interface with the public: its Web site, as well as creating links with social media options. Also important is monitoring the World Wide Web and responding, when appropriate, to organizational challenge. This is but a partial list of what public relations practitioners do. In sum, the public relations practitioner is manager/orchestrator/producer/director/writer/arranger and all-around general communications counsel to management. It is for this reason, then, that the process works best when the public relations director reports directly to the CEO. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 The Curse of “Spin” So pervasive has the influence of public relations become in our society that some even fear it as a pernicious force; they worry about the power of public relations to exercise a kind of thought control over the American public. Which brings us to spin. In its most benign form, spin signifies the distinctive interpretation of an issue or action to sway public opinion, as in putting a positive slant on a negative story. In its most virulent form, spin means confusing an issue or distorting or obfuscating it or even lying. The propensity in recent years for presumably respected public figures to lie in an attempt to deceive the public has led to the notion that “spinning the facts” is synonymous with public relations practice. It isn’t. Spinning an answer to hide what really happened—that is, lying, confusing, distorting, obfuscating, whatever you call it—is antithetical to the proper practice of public relations. In public relations, if you lie once, you will never be trusted again— particularly by the media. Nonetheless, public relations spin has come to mean the twisting of messages and statements of half-truths to create the appearance of performance, which may or may not be true. This association with spin has hurt the field. The New York Times headlined a critical article on public relations practice, “Spinning Frenzy: P.R.’s Bad Press.”20 Other critics admonish the field as “a huge, powerful, hidden medium available only to wealthy individuals, big corporations, governments, and government agencies because of its high cost.” 21 In recent years, the most high-profile government public relations operatives have often fallen guilty to blatant spin techniques. In the Clinton administration, communications counselors, such as James Carville, Paul Begala, and Lanny Davis, eagerly spun the tale that intern Monica Lewinsky was, in effect, delusional about an Oval Office affair with the President. (She wasn’t!) In the Bush administration, high-level advisors Karl Rove and Lewis Libby were implicated in a spinning campaign against former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, who questioned the motives of the war in Iraq. In 2005, Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s top aide, was convicted for “obstruction of justice, false statement, and perjury” in the Wilson case.22 Faced with this era of spin and unrelenting questioning by the media and the public about the ethics of public relations, practitioners must always be sensitive to and considerate of how their actions and their words will influence the public. Above all—in defiance of charges of spinning—public relations practitioners must consider as their cardinal rule: to never, ever lie. The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 14 Part 1 Evolution What Manner of Man or Woman? What kind of individual does it take to become a competent public relations professional? A 2004 study of agency, corporate, and nonprofit public relations leaders, sponsored by search firm Heyman Associates, reported seven areas in particular that characterize a successful public relations career: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Diversity of experience Performance Communications skills Relationship building Proactivity and passion Teamliness Intangibles, such as personality, likeability, and chemistry23 Beyond these success-building areas, in order to make it, a public relations professional ought to possess a set of specific technical skills as well as an appreciation of the proper attitudinal approach to the job. On the technical side, the following six skills are important: 1. Knowledge of the field. The underpinnings of public relations—what it is, what it does, and what it ought to stand for. 2. Communications knowledge. The media and the ways in which they work; communications research; and, most important, how to write. 3. Technological knowledge. Familiarity with computers and associated technologies, as well as with the World Wide Web, are imperative. 4. Current events knowledge. Knowledge of what’s going on around you—daily factors that influence society: history, literature, language, politics, economics, and all the rest—from the Ming Dynasty to Yao Ming; from Ben Stein to bin Laden; from Dr. Phil to Dr. Dre; from Three Penny Opera to 50 Cent; from Fat Joe to J Lo to Ozomatli. A public relations professional must be, in the truest sense, a Renaissance man or woman. 5. Business knowledge. How business works, a bottom-line orientation, and a knowledge of your company and industry. 6. Management knowledge. How senior managers make decisions, how public policy is shaped, and what pressures and responsibilities fall on managers. In terms of the “attitude” that effective public relations practitioners must possess, the following six requisites are imperative: The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 1. Pro communications. A bias toward disclosing rather than withholding information. Public relations professionals should want to communicate with the public, not shy away from communicating. They should practice the belief that the public has a right to know. 2. Advocacy. Public relations people must believe in their employers. They must be advocates for their employers. They must stand up for what their employers represent. Although they should never ever lie (Never, ever!) or distort or hide facts, occasionally it may be in an organization’s best interest to avoid comment on certain issues. If practitioners don’t believe in the integrity and credibility of their employers, their most honorable course is to go to “Plan B”—find work elsewhere. Chapter 1 What Is Public Relations, Anyway? 15 3. Counseling orientation. A compelling desire to advise senior managers. Top executives are used to dealing in tangibles, such as balance sheets, costs per thousand, and cash flows. Public relations practitioners deal in intangibles, such as public opinion, media influence, and communications messages. Practitioners must be willing to support their beliefs—often in opposition to lawyers or human resources executives. They must even be willing to disagree with management at times. Far from being compliant, public relations practitioners must have the gumption to say no. 4. Ethics. The counsel that public relations professionals deliver must always be ethical. The mantra of the public relations practitioner must be to do the right thing. 5. Willingness to take risks. Most of the people you work for in public relations have no idea what you do. Sad but true. Consequently, it’s easy to be overlooked as a public relations staff member. You therefore must be willing to stick your neck out . . . stand up for what you believe in . . . take risks. Public relations professionals must have the courage of their convictions and the personal confidence to proudly represent their curious—yet critical—role in any organization. 6. Positive outlook. Public relations work occasionally is frustrating work. Management doesn’t always listen to your good counsel, preferring instead to follow attorneys and others into safer positions. No matter. A public relations professional, if he or she is to perform at optimum effectiveness, must be positive. You can’t afford to be a “sad sack.” You win some. You lose some. But in public relations, at least, the most important thing is to keep on swinging and smiling. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 Last Word Spin, cover-up, distortion, and subterfuge are the antitheses of good public relations. Ethics, truth, credibility—these values are what good public relations is all about. To be sure, public relations is not yet a profession like law, accounting, or medicine, in which all practitioners are trained, licensed, and supervised. Nothing prevents someone with little or no formal training from hanging out a shingle as a public relations specialist. Such frauds embarrass professionals in the field and, thankfully, are becoming harder to find. Indeed, both the Public Relations Society of America and the International Association of Business Communicators have strong codes of ethics that serve as the basis of their membership philosophies (Appendix A). Meanwhile, the importance of the practice of public relations in a less certain, more chaotic, overcommunicated, and competitive world cannot be denied. Despite its considerable problems—in attaining leadership status, finding its proper role in society, disavowing spin, and earning enduring respect— the practice of public relations has never been more prominent. In its first 100 years as a formal, integrated, strategic-thinking process, public relations has become part of the fabric of modern society. Here’s why. As much as they need customers for their products, managers today also desperately need constituents for their beliefs and values. In the 21st century, the role of public relations is vital in helping guide management in framing its ideas and making its commitments. The counsel that management needs must come from advisers who understand public attitudes, moods, needs, and aspirations. Contrary to what misinformed critics may charge, “More often than not, public relations strategies and tactics are the most effective and valuable arrows in the quiver of the disaffected and the powerless.”24 Civil rights leaders, labor leaders, The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 16 Part 1 Evolution public advocates, and grassroots movements of every stripe have been boosted by proven communications techniques to win attention and build support and goodwill. Winning this elusive goodwill takes time and effort. Credibility can’t be won overnight, nor can it be bought. If management policies aren’t in the public’s best interest, no amount of public relations effort can obscure that reality. Public relations is not effective as a temporary defensive measure to compensate for management misjudgment. If management errs seriously, the best—and only—public relations advice must be to get the truthful story out immediately. Indeed, working properly, the public relations department of an organization often serves as the firm’s “conscience.” This is why the relationship between public relations and other parts of the organization— advertising and marketing, for example—is occasionally a strained one. The function of the public relations department is distinctive from that of any other internal area. Few others share the access to management that public relations enjoys. Few others share the potential for power that public relations may exercise. No less an authority than Abraham Lincoln once said: “Public sentiment is everything . . . with public sentiment, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed. He who molds public sentiment goes deeper than he who executes statutes or pronounces decisions. He makes statutes or decisions possible or impossible to execute.”25 Stated another way, no matter how you define it, the practice of public relations has become an essential element in the conduct of relationships for a vast variety of organizations in the 21st century. Discussion Starters Top of 1. How prominent is the practice of public relations around the world in the 21st century? 2. How would you define the practice of public relations? 3. Why is the practice of public relations generally misunderstood by the public? 4. How would you describe the significance of the planning aspect in public relations? 5. Within the R-A-C-E process of public relations, what would you say is the most critical element? 6. In what ways does public relations differ from advertising or marketing? the Shelf 7. If you were the public relations director of the local United Way, whom would you consider your most important “publics” to be? 8. What are seven functions of public relations practice? 9. How do professional public relations people regard the aspect of “spin” as part of what they do? 10. What are the technical and attitudinal requisites most important for public relations success? The New PR: An Insider’s Guide to Changing the Face of Public Relations / Phil Hall, North Potomac, MD: Larstan Publishing, 2007 takes the public relations industry to task for doing a poor job in defining its own “strengths and opportunities with the general public.” Through examples and interviews, the book presents a valid portrait of the state of the public relations business in the first decade of the 21st century. The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 This overview, which features real-life examples and interviews with real-life practitioners, was written by a former editor of the newsletter PR News. The author describes public relations practice in a positive, but realistic, manner. He talks about what public relations can and can’t do, quoting numerous professionals about “unrealistic expectations” of clients. The author also Chapter 1 What Is Public Relations, Anyway? 17 Case Study Ho Ho Ho – Out Goes the I-Man In the spring of 2007, few radio personalities were more powerful than Don Imus. The I-Man, as his many influential guests called him, held forth each drive-time morning on New York’s WFAN radio and was simulcast nationally on MSNBC. Imus was well known for mixing political commentary and interviews—all the leading politicians regularly paid homage to his program—with an irreverent, often close-to-the-edge style of humor. Indeed, Imus and his studio cohorts regularly trashed any interest group, regardless of age, sex, body type, political affiliation, religion, and, until one fateful day in 2007, race. One reason Imus got away with it was because he was charitable to a fault. Imus leavened his on-air insults by contributing significantly to worthwhile causes, including his own cattle ranch for children with cancer. Imus, in fact, was an equal-opportunity offender. His combination of clout, cynicism, and charity made him seem impervious to the criticisms that dogged lesser men. Until the day the roof fell in April 2007. Gone in 20 Seconds That was the day that Imus and a radio sidekick described the inspirational Rutgers University women’s basketball team as “nappy-headed hoes.” It was a throw-away discussion, typical of the politically incorrect rants that made Imus, Imus. The colloquy with his colleague lasted no more than 20 seconds. But it was the most fateful 20 seconds of the I-Man’s 30-year radio career. While few paid attention at the time, a liberal, Washington, D.C.–based monitoring group, Media Matters, posted the video and transcript on its Web site and sent an email blast to several hundred reporters. And Imus was toast. Almost immediately, African American leaders interpreted the unfortunate description as “racist.” 쏋 The Rev. Al Sharpton led a campaign to rid the airwaves of Imus. 쏋 Rutgers Coach Vivian Stringer and her players held a press conference to “show the world their true identity.” 쏋 And long-term sponsors, from General Motors to Staples, started having second thoughts about their affiliation with the suddenly-radioactive broadcaster. Most hurtful—and probably most surprising at least to Imus— was that virtually every one of his regular guests, from late broadcaster Tim Russert to journalists Howard Fineman and Frank Rich, from Senators Joe Biden and Chris Dodd to African American political leader former Congressman Harold Ford, headed for the exits, rather than support their “media friend.” A Final Futile Attempt Abandoned by those whose books and programs and personal appearances he had flogged for years, Imus made a desperate attempt at “damage control.” 쏋 First, Imus apologized profusely on the air, painfully explaining that he meant no harm, wasn’t a racist, and deserved a second chance. 쏋 Next, he traveled to New Jersey to meet with the Rutgers team. The deal was brokered by New Jersey Governor John Corzine, who, in an ominous omen for Imus, was seriously injured in a car accident, while speeding to the meeting at the Governor’s Mansion. 쏋 Finally, in one last desperate maneuver, Imus made a pilgrimage to the radio home of the man leading the charge against him. His appearance on the Rev. Al Sharpton Show was an unmitigated disaster. The “ever-gracious” Rev. Sharpton let Imus have it with both barrels. The Sharpton on-air pummeling of the wounded Imus closed the lid on any chance of resurrection (Figure 1-6). ISBN 0-558-55519-5 FIGURE 1-6 Sharpton shakedown. Don Imus made a fatal public relations blunder when he visited the Rev. Al Sharpton’s radio show, looking for vindication for his stupid remarks. He was promptly immolated by the Rev. Al. (Photo: Newscom) The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 18 Part 1 Evolution Shortly thereafter, their sponsors having spoken, both WFAN and MSNBC removed Imus from the airwaves. The besmirched broadcaster returned to his New Mexico ranch to lick his wounds and ponder his future. A “Second Act” for the I-Man In America in the 21st century, not even comments attributed as racist can put one under for good. There is increasingly room for “second acts” in the most forgiving, celebrity-crazed nation on earth. And Imus, an experienced broadcaster with an affluent audience, found himself the subject of great attention from radio networks looking for star attractions. With the radio industry reeling from consolidation, true “stars” were few and far between. And a proven star—even one as tarnished as Imus—became a coveted commodity. And so, eight months after his on-air self-immolation, a chastened Don Imus was hired by Citadel Broadcasting to return to the airwaves at rival WABC radio, once again drive-time host for a cumulative weekly audience of nearly one million listeners. He also was to be simulcast, not by the powerful peacock network’s MSNBC, but rather by something called RFD (rural free delivery) TV. (Later, Imus switched to the Fox Business Network.) Many of his advertisers, having forsaken him for an “acceptable” period of time, returned to the Imus fold. And while The National Association of Black Journalists objected to Imus’ return, the Rev. Sharpton—content to have made his headlines and gone on to other “crusades”—said only that he would “reserve the right to agitate with advertisers.” The I-Man, himself, returned to the air a less-edgy, lessgutsy, more politically correct commentator, who had become decidedly more knowledgeable about the perception of “standards” in American broadcasting. In addition to his loyal cast, Imus had added two new regular comic commentators—one male, one female, and both black. And, oh yes, he also returned with a $5 million annual contract (Figure 1-7). Nonetheless, even a watered-down Imus was not immune to new brushes against political correctness. In the summer of 2008, a throwaway remark about perpetually troubled NFL defensive back Adam “Pac Man” Jones landed Mr. Imus right back in the soup, as Net watchdogs pounced immediately. Mr. Jones, it seemed, would not be the only one playing “defense” for the foreseeable future. Questions 1. Had you been advising Imus, what would you have counseled him to say/do after making his racial slur? 2. Had you been advising his employers, WFAN and MSNBC, what would you have counseled them to do? FIGURE 1-7 Return of the I-Man. In December 2007, a chastened Don Imus returned to the airwaves, surrounded, in part, by two new African American sidekicks. (Photo: Newscom) 3. How would you have counseled Imus with respect to Al Sharpton? Would you have gone on Sharpton’s radio show? 4. How do you explain Imus’ “radio friends” failing to stick up for him in his hour of need? 5. How must Imus comport himself now on the air? For further information, see Brooks Barnes, Emily Steel and Sarah McBride, “Behind the Fall of Imus, A Digital Brush Fire,” The Wall Street Journal, April 13, 2007, A1; Sarah McBride, “Imus Signs Deal with Citadel to Return to Radio,” The Wall Street Journal, November 2, 2007, B4; Fraser P. Seitel, “Requiem for Imus,” odwyerpr.com, April 13, 2007; Jacques Steinberg, “All Forgiven, WIMUS-AM Is on a Roll,” New York Times, February 3, 2008; and Jacques Steinberg, “Football Talk Soon Turns to Race on Imus’s Show,” New York Times, June 24, 2008, A19. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. From Chapter 1 What Is Public Relations, Anyway? 19 the Top An Interview with Harold Burson Harold Burson is the world’s most influential and gentlemanly public relations practitioner. He has spent more than a half century serving as counselor to and confidante of corporate CEOs, government leaders, and heads of public sector institutions. As founder and chairman of Burson-Marsteller, he was the architect of the largest public relations agency in the world. Mr. Burson, widely cited as the standard bearer of public relations ethics, has received virtually every major honor awarded by the profession, including the Harold Burson Chair in Public Relations at Boston University’s College of Communication, established in 2003. How would you define public relations? One of the shortest—and most precise—definitions of public relations I know is “doing good and getting credit for it.” I like this definition because it makes clear that public relations embodies two principal elements. One is behavior, which includes policy and attitude; the other is communications—the dissemination of information. The first tends to be strategic, the second tactical—although strategy plays a major role in many, if not most, media relations programs. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 How has the business of public relations changed over time? Public relations has, over time, become more relevant as a management function for all manner of institutions—public and private sector, profit and not-for-profit. CEOs increasingly recognize the need to communicate to achieve their organizational objectives. Similarly, they have come to recognize public relations as a necessary component in the decisionmaking process. This has enhanced the role of public relations both internally and for independent consultants. How do ethics apply to the public relations function? In a single word, pervasively. Ethical behavior is at the root of what we do as public relations professionals. We approach our calling with a commitment to serve the public interest, knowing full well that the public interest lacks a universal definition and knowing that one person’s view of the public interest differs markedly from that of another. We must therefore be consistent in our personal definition of the public interest and be prepared to speak up for those actions we take. At the same time, we must recognize our roles as advocates for our clients or employers. It is our job to reconcile client and employer objectives with the public interest. And we must remember that while clients and employers are entitled to have access to professional public relations counsel, you and I individually are in no way obligated to provide such counsel when we feel that doing so would compromise us in any way. What are the qualities that make up the ideal public relations man or woman? It is difficult to establish a set of specifications for all the kinds of people wearing the public relations mantle. Generally, I feel five primary characteristics apply to just about every successful public relations person I know. 쏋 They’re smart—bright, intelligent people; quick studies. They ask the right questions. They have that unique ability to establish credibility almost on sight. 쏋 They know how to get along with people. They work well with their bosses, their peers, their subordinates. They work well with their clients and with third parties like the press and suppliers. 쏋 They are emotionally stable—even (especially) under pressure. They use the pronoun “we” more than “I.” 쏋 They are motivated, and part of that motivation involves an ability to develop creative solutions. No one needs to tell them what to do next; instinctively, they know. 쏋 They don’t fear starting with a blank sheet of paper. To them, the blank sheet of paper equates with challenge and opportunity. They can write; they can articulate their thoughts in a persuasive manner. What is the future of public relations? More so than ever before, those responsible for large institutions whose existence depends on public acceptance and support recognize the need for sound public relations input. At all levels of society, public opinion has been brought to bear in the conduct of affairs both in the public and private sectors. Numerous CEOs of major corporations have been deposed following initiatives undertaken by the media, by public interest groups, by institutional stockholders—all representing failures that stemmed from a lack of sensitivity to public opinion. Accordingly, my view is that public relations is playing and will continue to play a more pivotal role in the decision-making process than ever before. The sources of public relations counsel may well become less structured and more diverse, simply because of the growing pervasive understanding that public tolerance has become so important in the achievement of any goals that have a recognizable impact on society. The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 20 Part 1 Evolution Public Relations Library Cutlip, Scott M., Allen H. Center, and Glen M. Broom, Effective Public Relations, 9th ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2006. Still the most comprehensive textbook in the field, including this one. (But don’t tell my publisher!) Ewen, Stuart, PR! A Social History of Spin. New York: Basic Books, 1996. Heath, Robert L., Handbook of Public Relations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2004. Heath, Robert L., and W. Timothy Coombs, Today’s Public Relations An Introduction. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 2006. Two eminent professors suggest that relationship building is “more than just a buzzword,” and, rather, constitutes the essence of public relations. Henslowe, Philip, Public Relations: A Practical Guide to the Basics. Sterling, VA: Kogan Page, 2003. A British approach to the practice, endorsed by the London-based Institute of Public Relations. Lattimore, Dan (Ed.), Public Relations: The Practice and the Profession. New York: McGraw-Hill College, 2003. Marconi, Joe, Public Relations: The Complete Guide. Mason, OH: Thomson South-Western, 2004. This comprehensive book traces public relations from its earliest antecedents—the time of Edward Bernays (see Chapter 2) in the 1930s to the present day. It covers, in depth, most aspects of the field, including the role of the public relations practitioner today. Newsom, Doug, Judy Vanslyke Turk, and Dean Kruckeberg, This Is PR: The Realities of Public Relations, 9th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 2007. Pohl, Gayle M., No Mulligans Allowed: Strategically Plotting Your Public Relations Course. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishers, 2005. A fresh, creative, and useful perspective on charting a public relations career, authored by one of the nation’s foremost public relations educators. Rampton, Sheldon, and John Stauber, Trust Us, We’re Experts: How Industry Manipulates Science and Gambles with Your Future. New York: J.P. Tarcher/Putnam, 2002. A super-cynical look at what public relations people do for a living, authored by two of the industry’s most ardent—yet lovable—critics. Ries, Al, and Laura Ries, The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR. New York: Harperbusiness, 2004. An old ad hand and his daughter blow the lid off the advertising profession. Slater, Robert, No Such Thing as Over-Exposure: Inside the Life and Celebrity of Donald Trump. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Financial Times/Prentice-Hall, 2005. The story, if you can bear it, of Donald Trump, in which the promotion-craving megalomaniac sat for 100 hours of private conversations. Wilcox, Dennis (Ed.), Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics, 8th ed. Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 2007. Yaverbaum, Eric, Public Relations Kit for Dummies 2nd Edition. Foster City, CA: IDG Books Worldwide, 2006. A tongue-in-cheek, but useful, primer. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. Chapter 2 ISBN 0-558-55519-5 The History and Growth of Public Relations In the annals of the practice of public relations, no day was probably more historic than December 22, 2007. That was the day that Queen Elizabeth II launched her own YouTube video site (see Figure 2-1). The 81-year-old British monarch included news reel footage and film snippets of daily life to keep the public informed about the ways of the Buckingham Palace royals. Palace officials said the official Royal Channel on YouTube would be the place to go to keep up with the activities of the royal family. Said the official royal news release, “The queen always keeps abreast with new ways of communicating with people. She has always been aware of reaching more people and adapting the communication to suit.”1 Good for Her Majesty, and not bad for a field that’s been around, as a formal practice, for just about one century. Unlike accounting, economics, medicine, and law, public relations is still a young field, approximately 100 years old. Modern-day public relations is clearly a 20thcentury phenomenon. The impetus for its growth might, in fact, be traced back to one man. John D. Rockefeller Jr. (Figure 2-2) was widely attacked in 1914 when the coal company he owned in Ludlow, Colorado, was the scene of a bloody FIGURE 2-1 Hip Majesty. Queen Elizabeth II joined the public relations/social media revolution in 2007, when she broadcast her annual Christmas message on YouTube. (Photo: Newscom) massacre staged by Colorado militiamen and company guards against evicted miners and their families. When a dozen women and small children were killed at the Ludlow massacre, one of those Rockefeller called in to help him deal with the crisis was a journalist named Ivy Ledbetter Lee. Lee, whom we discuss later in this chapter, would go on to become “the father of public relations.” His employer, John D. Rockefeller Jr., whose own legendary father had always adhered to a strict policy of silence, would bear responsibility for the birth of a profession built on open communications. The relative youthfulness of the practice of public relations means that the field is still evolving. It is also getting stronger and gaining more respect every day. The professionals entering the practice today are by and large superior in intellect, training, and even experience to their counterparts of decades ago (when nobody studied “public relations”). The strength of the practice of public relations today is based on the enduring commitment of the public to participate in a free and open democratic 21 The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 22 Part 1 Evolution FIGURE 2-2 Pondering a crisis. John D. Rockefeller (center) needed public relations help in 1914, when the Colorado coal company he owned was the scene of a massacre of women and children. (Rockefeller Archive Center) society. Several trends abroad in society have influenced the evolution of public relations theory and practice: 1. Growth of big institutions. The days of small government, local media, momand-pop grocery stores, tiny community colleges, and small local banks have largely disappeared. In their place have emerged massive political organizations, worldwide media networks, Walmarts, Home Depots, statewide community college systems, and nationwide banking networks. The public relations profession has evolved to interpret these large institutions to the publics they serve. 2. Heightened public awareness and media sophistication. First came the invention of the printing press. Then came mass communications: the print media, radio, and television. Later it was the development of cable, satellite, videotape, videodisks, video typewriters, portable cameras, word processors, fax machines, and cell phones. Then came the Internet, blogs, podcasts, wikis, FaceBook, MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, and all the other communications technologies that have helped fragment audiences. Fifty years ago, McGill University Professor Marshall McLuhan predicted the world would become a “global village,” where people everywhere could witness events—no matter where they occurred—in real time. In the 21st century, McLuhan’s prophesy has become a reality. The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 3. Increasing incidence of societal change, conflict, and confrontation. Minority rights, women’s rights, senior citizens’ rights, gay rights, animal rights, consumerism, environmental awareness, downsizings, layoffs, and resultant unhappiness with large institutions all have become part of day-to-day Chapter 2 The History and Growth of Public Relations society. With the growth of the Web, activists have become increasingly more daring, visible, and effective. Today, anyone who owns a computer can be a publisher, a broadcaster, a motivator of others. 4. Globalization and the growing power of global media, public opinion, and democratic capitalism. While institutions have grown in size and clout in the 21st century, at the same time the world has gotten increasingly smaller and more interrelated. Today, news of a cyclone that ravages Myanmar or an earthquake that imperils China is broadcast within moments to every corner of the globe. The outbreak of democracy and capitalism in China, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, South Africa, and even, in recent years, in nations like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Kosovo, has heightened the power of public opinion in the world. The process has been energized by media that span the globe, especially social media that instantaneously connect likeminded individuals. In China alone, there are 75 million blogs, often carrying criticisms of the government. Public opinion is a powerful force not only in democracies like the United States but also for oppressed peoples around the world. Accordingly, the practice of public relations as a facilitator for understanding has increased in prominence. 5. Dominance of the Internet and growth of social media. Nearly 1.4 billion of the world’s people today use the Internet.2 The extraordinary growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web has made hundreds of millions of people around the world not only “instant consumers” of communication but also, with the advent of social media, “instant generators” of communication as well. The profound change this continues to bring to society—and the importance it places on communications—is monumental. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 Ancient Beginnings Although modern public relations is a 20th-century phenomenon, its roots are ancient. Leaders in virtually every great society throughout history understood the importance of influencing public opinion through persuasion. For example, archeologists have found bulletins in Iraq, dating from as early as 1800 B.C., that told farmers of the latest techniques of harvesting, sowing, and irrigating.3 The more food the farmers grew, the better the citizenry ate and the wealthier the country became—a good example of planned persuasion to reach a specific public for a particular purpose—in other words, public relations. The ancient Greeks also put a high premium on communication skills. The best speakers, in fact, were generally elected to leadership positions. Occasionally, aspiring Greek politicians enlisted the aid of sophists (individuals renowned for both their reasoning and their rhetoric) to help fight verbal battles. Sophists gathered in the amphitheaters of the day to extol the virtues of particular political candidates. Thus, the sophists set the stage for today’s lobbyists, who attempt to influence legislation through effective communications techniques. From the time of the sophists, the practice of public relations has been a battleground for questions of ethics. Should a sophist or a lobbyist—or a public relations professional, for that matter—“sell” his or her The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 23 24 Part 1 Evolution PR Ethics talents to the highest bidder, regardless of personal beliefs, values, and ideologies? When modern-day public relations professionals agree to represent repressive governments, such as Iran or Zimbabwe or North Korea, or to defend the questionable actions of troubled celebrities, from Britney Spears and Barry Bonds to Amy Winehouse and O. J. Simpson, these ethical questions remain very much a focus of modern public relations. The Romans, particularly Julius Caesar, were also masters of persuasive techniques. When faced with an upcoming battle, Caesar would rally public support through published pamphlets and staged events. Similarly, during World War I, a special U.S. public information committee, the Creel Committee, was formed to channel the patriotic sentiments of Americans in support of the U.S. role in the war. Stealing a page from Caesar, the committee’s massive verbal and written communications effort was successful in marshaling national pride behind the war effort. According to a young member of the Creel Committee, Edward L. Bernays (later considered by many to be the “father of public relations”), “This was the first time in U.S. history that information was used as a weapon of war.”4 Even the Catholic Church had a hand in the creation of public relations. In the 1600s, under the leadership of Pope Gregory XV, the church established a College of Propaganda to “help propagate the faith.” In those days, the term propaganda did not have a negative connotation; the church simply wanted to inform the public about the advantages of Catholicism. Today, the pope and other religious leaders maintain communications staffs to assist in relations with the public. Indeed, the chief communications official in the Vatican maintains the rank of Archbishop of the Church. It was largely his role to deal with perhaps the most horrific scandal ever to face the Catholic Church—the priest pedophile issue of 20025 (see PR Ethics Mini-Case). Mini-Case The Pope’s Persuasive Public Relations Pilgrimage 쏋 Even before he touched down in Washington, Pope Benedict summoned reporters on his plane to address and condemn the sex-abuse scandal. By confronting the issue immediately and having it reported even before his plane arrived, Benedict had seized the agenda for the trip from anyone else, for example, Church critics and the media, who might have wished to use the visit for their own ends. 쏋 On the second day of his stay in D.C., Pope Benedict held an unscheduled meeting with sex-abuse victims from Boston. Only a handful of bishops before him had ventured to meet with victims. Indeed, the general feeling among Church hierarchy was that it was “beneath” the station of the princes of the church to descend to the level of the victim. Pope Benedict would have none of it. His mantra, correctly, was that the underlying principle of effective public relations was “Do the right thing.” And in meeting with the victims and repudiating the baser instincts of his associates, Pope Benedict did exactly that. 쏋 When Pope Benedict flew off to New York, people wondered if this final leg of the trip might prove anticlimactic. Specifically, how could he ever top his stirring performance in Washington? The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 In the spring of 2008, Pope Benedict XVI arrived in the United States, a little-known figure. Indeed, if a pope could be considered “shadowy,” the former Joseph Ratzinger might well have qualified. As a former member of the Hitlerjugend—Hitler Youth—the new pope had some explaining to do. Moreover, following one of history’s most beloved pontiffs, Pope John Paul II—the charismatic, personable, athletic “Pope on a Slope”—Benedict, by comparison, seemed formal, reclusive, and aloof. In addition, the Catholic Church had recently experienced its most damaging historic scandal involving pedophile priests, and Pope Benedict had been largely silent on the matter. All-in-all, the new pope’s trip to America was fraught with peril. But in one whirlwind week, Pope Benedict proved himself a master of public relations strategy, winning the admiration of even the church’s staunchest critics (see Figure 2-3). Here’s how he did it: Chapter 2 The History and Growth of Public Relations 25 FIGURE 2-3 Out of the bullpen. Pope Benedict XVI arrives at Yankee Stadium for an historic mass, not to mention a public relations victory, in the spring of 2008. (Photo: Newscom) The answer came in his first day in the Big Apple, when Pope Benedict XVI became the first pope to visit an American synagogue—right in time for Passover. He even got some gift matzo to munch on the flight back to Rome. The net impact of the surprise synagogue stop, on top of the public relations coup registered the day before in Washington, convinced the headline writers that Pope Benedict was the real deal. To wit: 쏋 “Pope Benedict and the Lasting Impact of His U.S. Trip.” 쏋 “Benedict Hits All the Right Notes.” 쏋 “Mazel Tov Pope B.” In between all this, of course, Pope Benedict addressed the United Nations, conducted a mass at Yankee Stadium, and toured the Big Apple. The public relations impression left by the new pope as he left for home, matzo in hand, was one of complete victory. Questions 1. What other public relations options did Pope Benedict have on his first American trip? 2. What was the downside of using the trip to highlight the Church’s pedophile scandal? *For further information, see Fraser P. Seitel, “The Pope and the Polygamists,” odwyerpr.com, April 28, 2008. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 Early American Experience The American public relations experience dates back to the founding of the republic. Influencing public opinion, managing communications, and persuading individuals at the highest levels were at the core of the American Revolution. The colonists tried to persuade King George III that they should be accorded the same rights as Englishmen. Taxation without representation is tyranny became their public relations slogan to galvanize fellow countrymen. When King George refused to accede to the colonists’ demands, they combined the weaponry of sword and pen. Samuel Adams, for one, organized Committees of The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 26 Part 1 Evolution Correspondence as a kind of revolutionary Associated Press to disseminate antiBritish information throughout the colonies. He also staged events to build up revolutionary fervor, such as the Boston Tea Party, in which colonists, masquerading as Indians, boarded British ships in Boston Harbor and pitched chests of imported tea overboard—as impressive a media event as has ever been recorded sans television. Thomas Paine, another early practitioner of public relations, wrote periodic pamphlets and essays that urged the colonists to band together. In one essay contained in his Crisis papers, Paine wrote poetically: “These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country.” The people listened, were persuaded, and took action—testifying to the power of early American communicators. Later American Experience The creation of the most important document in America’s history, the Constitution, also owed much to public relations. Federalists, who supported the Constitution, fought tooth and nail with anti-Federalists, who opposed it. Their battle was waged in newspaper articles, pamphlets, and other organs of persuasion in an attempt to influence public opinion. To advocate ratification of the Constitution, political leaders such as Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay banded together, under the pseudonym Publius, to write letters to leading newspapers. Today those letters are bound in a document called The Federalist Papers and are still used in the interpretation of the Constitution. After its ratification, the constitutional debate continued, particularly over the document’s apparent failure to protect individual liberties against government encroachment. Hailed as the father of the Constitution, Madison framed the Bill of Rights in 1791, which ultimately became the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. Fittingly, the first of those amendments safeguarded, among other things, the practice of public relations: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the rights of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. In other words, people were given the right to speak up for what they believed in and the freedom to try to influence the opinions of others. Thus was the practice of public relations ratified.6 Into the 1800s The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 The practice of public relations continued to percolate in the 19th century. Among the more prominent, yet negative, antecedents of modern public relations that took hold in the 1800s was press agentry. Two of the better-known—some would say notorious— practitioners of this art were Amos Kendall and Phineas T. Barnum. In 1829, President Andrew Jackson selected Kendall, a Kentucky writer and editor, to serve in his administration. Within weeks, Kendall became a member of Old Hickory’s “kitchen cabinet” and eventually became one of Jackson’s most influential assistants. Chapter 2 The History and Growth of Public Relations Kendall performed just about every White House public relations task. He wrote speeches, state papers, and messages, and turned out press releases. He even conducted basic opinion polls and is considered one of the earliest users of the “news leak.” Although Kendall is generally credited with being the first authentic presidential press secretary, his functions and role went far beyond that position. Among Kendall’s most successful ventures in Jackson’s behalf was the development of the administration’s own newspaper, the Globe. Although it was not uncommon for the governing administration to publish its own national house organ, Kendall’s deft editorial touch refined the process to increase its effectiveness. Kendall would pen a Jackson news release, distribute it for publication to a local newspaper, and then reprint the press clipping in the Globe to underscore Jackson’s nationwide popularity. Indeed, that popularity continued unabated throughout Jackson’s years in office, with much of the credit going to the president’s public relations adviser.* Most public relations professionals would rather not talk about P. T. Barnum as an industry pioneer. Barnum, some say, was a huckster whose motto might well have been “The public be fooled.” Barnum’s defenders suggest that although the impresario may have had his faults, he nonetheless was respected in his time as a user of written and verbal public relations techniques to further his museum and circus. Like him or not, Barnum was a master publicist. In the 1800s, as owner of a major circus, Barnum generated article after article for his traveling show. He purposely gave his star performers short names—for instance, Tom Thumb, the midget, and Jenny Lind, the singer—so that they could easily fit into the headlines of narrow newspaper columns. Barnum also staged bizarre events, such as the legal marriage of the fat lady to the thin man, to drum up free newspaper exposure. And although today’s practitioners scoff at Barnum’s methods, in this day of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Star Jones, Donald Trump, Al Sharpton, and on and on, there are still many press agents practicing the ringmaster’s techniques. Indeed, when today’s public relations professionals bemoan the specter of shysters and hucksters that still overhangs their field, they inevitably place the blame squarely on the fertile mind and silver tongue of P. T. Barnum. Emergence of the Robber Barons ISBN 0-558-55519-5 The American Industrial Revolution ushered in many things at the turn of the century, not the least of which was the growth of public relations. The 20th century began with small mills and shops, which served as the hub of the frontier economy, eventually giving way to massive factories. Country hamlets, which had been the centers of commerce and trade, were replaced by sprawling cities. Limited transportation and communications facilities became nationwide railroad lines and communications wires. Big business took over, and the businessman was king. The men who ran America’s industries seemed more concerned with making a profit than with improving the lot of their fellow citizens. Railroad owners led by William Vanderbilt, bankers led by J. P. Morgan, oil magnates led by John D. Rockefeller, and steel impresarios led by Henry Clay Frick ruled the fortunes of thousands of others. Typical of the reputation acquired by this group of industrialists was the famous—and *Kendall was decidedly not cut from the same cloth as today’s neat, trim, buttoned-down press secretaries. On the contrary, Jackson’s man was described as “a puny, sickly looking man with a weak voice, a wheezing cough, narrow and stooping shoulders, a sallow complexion, silvery hair in his prime, slovenly dress, and a seedy appearance.” (Fred F. Endres, “Public Relations in the Jackson White House,” Public Relations Review 2, no. 3 [Fall 1976]: 5–12.) The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. 27 28 Part 1 Evolution perhaps apocryphal—response of Vanderbilt when questioned about the public’s reaction to his closing of the New York Central Railroad: “The public be damned!” Little wonder that Americans cursed Vanderbilt and his ilk as “robber barons” who cared little for the rest of society. Although most who depended on these industrialists for their livelihood felt powerless to rebel, the seeds of discontent were being sown liberally throughout society. Enter the Muckrakers Talking When the axe fell on the robber barons, it came in the form of criticism from a feisty group of journalists dubbed muckrakers. The “muck” that these reporters and editors “raked” was dredged from the supposedly scandalous operations of America’s business Points P. T. Barnum Lives FIGURE 2-4 P. T. Barnum’s legacy. The Reverend Al and The Donald, latter-day publicity hounds. (Photo: Newscom) media, meanwhile, continued to quote his every word. Some even called him “the P. T. Barnum of Finance.” Amen. * Timothy L. O’Brien, “What’s He Really Worth?” New York Times (October 23, 2005): Section 3, 1. The Practice of Public Relations, Eleventh Edition, by Fraser P. Seitel. Published by Prentice Hall. Copyright © 2011 by Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 Self-respecting public relations professionals despise the legacy of P. T. Barnum, who created publicity through questionable methods. They lament, as noted in Chapter 1, that public relations communication should always reflect “performance” and “truth.” Ah, were it so. Alas, Barnum’s bogus methods are just as effective with 21st-century media as they were with 19th-century media. Doubt it? Then consider two 21st-century public relations creations, the Reverend Al Sharpton and the real estate mogul/TV reality show star Donald Trump (Figure 2-4). Sharpton, a minor aide in the days of Martin Luther King, first gained notoriety in the 1980s by vigorously defending a Newburgh, New York, woman who claimed she had been abducted and raped in a racially motivated crime. The woman’s story turned out to be a lie, and Sharpton lost a lawsuit for his role in the ruse. No matter. Despite a series of ethical lapses, the loquacious Reverend Al was “good copy.” And when the Reverend called, the media listened. By 2004, Al Sharpton was a bona fide candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination. Similarly, Trump, son of a wealthy New York real estate landlord, was a master wheeler-dealer, more heralded for his bravado and arrogance than for his acumen. Indeed, in the 1980s, Trump, despite outrageous claims to the contrary, narrowly escaped real estate bankruptcy and was forced to trade part of his empire to restructure debts. In 2004 and again in 2009, Trump’s Atlantic City casino went bankrupt, despite The Donald’s continuous claims that “things are going great.” And then in 2005, The New York Times had the audacity to question Trump’s claims that he was “a billionaire.”* (The Donald later sued the author.) No matter. Trump continued to thrive with his television show, The Apprentice, and endorsement deals for a variety of products from Trump Perfume to Trump University. The Chapter 2 The History and Growth of Public Relations enterprises. Upton Sinclair’s novel The Jungle attacked the deplorable conditions of the meatpacking industry. Ida Tarbell’s History of the Standard Oil Company stripped away the public facade of the nation’s leading petroleum firm. Her accusations against Standard Oil Chairman Rockefeller, many of which were unproven, nonetheless stirred up public attention. Magazines such as McClure’s struck out systematically at one industry after another. The captains of industry, used to getting their own way and having to answer to no one, were wrenched from their peaceful passivity and rolled out on the public carpet to answer for their sins. Journalistic shock stories soon led to a wave of sentiment for legislative reform. As journalists and the public became more anxious, the government got more involved. Congress began passing laws telling business leaders what they could and couldn’t do. Trust-busting became the order of the day. Conflicts between employers and employees began to break out, and newly organized labor unions came to the fore. The Socialist and Communist movements began to take off. Ironically, it was “a period when free enterprise reached a peak in American history, and yet at that very climax, the tide of public opinion was swelling up against business freedom, primarily because of the breakdown in communications between the businessman and the public.”7 For a time, these men of inordinate wealth and power found themselves limited in their ability to defend themselves and their activities against the tidal wave of public condemnation. They simply did not know how to get through to the public. To tell their side of the story, the business barons first tried using the lure of advertising to silence journalistic critics; they tried to buy off critics by paying for ads in their papers. It didn’t work. Next, they paid publicity people, or press agents, to present their companies’ positions. Often these hired guns painted over the real problems of their client companies. The public saw through this approach. Clearly, another method had to be discovered to get the public to at least consider the business point of view. Business leaders were discovering that a corporation might have capital, labor, and natural resources, yet be doomed to fail if it couldn’t influence public opinion. The best way to influence public opinion, as it turned out, was through honesty and candor. This simple truth—the truth that lies at the heart of modern-day, effective public relations practice—was the key to the accomplishments of American history’s first great public relations counselor. ISBN 0-558-55519-5 Ivy Lee: The Real Father of Modern Public Relations Ivy Ledbetter Lee was a former Wall Street reporter, the son of a Methodist minister, who plunged into publicity work in 1903 (Figure 2-5). Lee believed neither in Barnum’s public-be-fooled approach nor Vanderbilt’s public-be-damned philosophy. For Lee, the key to business acceptance and understanding was that the public be informed. Lee disdained the press agents of the time, who used any influence or trick to get a story on their clients printed, regardless of the truth or merits. By contrast, Lee firmly believed that the only way business could answer its critics convincingly was to present its side honestly, accurately, and forcefully. Instead of merely appeasing the public, Lee...
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Communication Theories and How They Guide Public Relations
Public relation focuses on four primary goals that include informing, persuading,
communicating, motivating. For instance, Steve Jobs, the CEO, and founder of Apple introduced
new public relation innovations which turned customer's complaints into a free publicity
situation. The issue was that the CEO cut off the price of Apple phone by $ 200. Those who had
purchased it at an earlier price were frustrated (56). The CEO realized the mistake it made and
started to respond on the issue. The campaign focused on persuasion and motivation of the Apple
loyalists. In the statement by the CEO, he wro...


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