The Wall Street Journal ran an opinion piece on may 7th, by Daniel Henninger (“The only player not in spin game is the U.S.A.”) about using PR to “appease the chorus of moral umbrage.” The basic argument is that the U.S. media are spinning the Abu Ghraib story –a kind of ‘with friends like these who needs Al Jazeera?’ attack on the prison coverage. He then goes on to say that the govt isn’t spinning enough, and isn’t in the game of shaping world opinion –ergo it is taking a hit.
I don’t agree; in fact I wish it took PR more seriously –as opposed to sporadically. Not as a counter-spin to the alleged media spin, but as a way of communicating at all times. Not just in a time of crisis, either.
Does anybody remember that infamous brand-building exercise with a catchy title, the ‘Shared Values Initiative’ spearheaded by Charlotte Beers? It comprised TV commercials, print ads and radio spots, with the tag-line “Freedom. Appreciate it. Cherish it. Protect it.” Where did the ‘initiative’ disappear? Remember ‘Open Dialogue?’ If you look at the site, the ‘what’s new’ section doesn’t appear to have been updated since Ramadan 2002! Beers left the job, but does that mean the communication stops?
Too may times, PR is considered spin or counter-spin. A task, no different from running an ad or injecting a press release. There is another word for that: propaganda. Maybe PR does have a PR problem, after all.