Snippets - More on Armstrong Williams, Hoffman & Small PR Agency Pros, NewComm Forum

  • PRSA and Council for PR Firms take no stance. With the opportunity to take a stand, and put out a strong statment on the Armstrong Williams issue, and PR's future, both PRSA and Council for PR Firms decided that all the blame lay at the feet of ... Armstrong Williams.

    From the NYT article:

    Judith T. Phair, the president and chief executive of the Public Relations Society of America for 2005, condemned the decision by Mr. Williams to, as she put it, promote the law "without revealing that his comments were paid for by a public relations agency under contract to the government."

    "Any paid endorsement that is not fully disclosed as such and is presented as objective news coverage," Ms. Phair said, is a violation of the group's code of ethics, "which requires that public relations professionals engage in open, honest communications and fully disclose sponsors or financial interests involved in any paid communications activities."

    ...

    The agencies' trade association, the Council of Public Relations Firms in New York, also has an ethics code, but Ketchum did not violate it, the council president, Kathy Cripps, said.

    "Public relations needs to express total accuracy and truthfulness," Ms. Cripps said. However, she added, referring to Mr. Williams, "it was the spokesperson's responsibility to disclose the affiliation" rather than Ketchum's.

    Neither said anything about Ketchum, but excused Ketchum. This isn't the type of stance either association should take, but rather forward looking viewpoints and solutions.

    I'm not excusing what Williams did - and we all know that he's paying the price, losing Tribune and possibly Sinclair - but there is enough blame to be spread around.

    My main thought, though, is are these associations afraid to come out with anything too strong which would offend the member base that is employed by Ketchum?
  • Greg Hoffman's Blog ... I added a new blog to my list, which is usually not Snippets material. But, I wanted to point out what else Greg Hoffman is involved with: Yahoo Group's Small PR Agency Pros.

    The Small PR Agency Pros list is a great message board for any individual practioner. It's a group of open dialogue, where members ask for brainstorming ideas and actually provide input and thought. If you are in PR or starting out in PR, it's a group that's worth joining because the members are proactive.

    Greg also has a cool security focused blog, which is something all PC users should be aware of at all times.
  • NewComm Forum is a comin' ... As I continue to prepare for the NewComm Forum, I have had a lot of great conversations with different companies, and learned what they are doing in regards to the blogosphere.

    Some of the stuff is very cool, and more attuned to the average PR person, our less tech-savvy peers.

    Hope to see you there!

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2 comments

  1. I certainly think the Associations are trying to tiptoe along the fence on this one.

    Williams, with his dual agency/columnist lives, was setting himself up for an ethical dilemma, but how can a $240k payment for "strategic services" be considered aboveboard by any firm?

    As the VNR flap last year showed, increasingly media-aware consumers are demanding that their news sources be more forthright and honest - which means that some previously acceptable PR tactics will have to be re-examined, maybe even shelved.

    Colin

    http://www.canuckflack.com/archives/000703.html

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  2. They will regret their actions, I believe. The PRSA is about the least transparent example of an advocacy around right now. With their unwillingness to answer press questions, hiding ballots, stacking the deck in access to leadership roles, questionable financial actions ... they have no room to play more 'favorites' games.

    Now, with Senators Harkin (D) and Specter (R) getting into the fray, others will no doubt follow. Congressional hearings anyone? Gee, that will make things even better for PR! PRSA is failing - us all.

    If you ask me, and - of course, no one has - I believe PRSA is as much to blame for the present state of affairs as anyone else. Ketchum, Armstrong Williams and others included.

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