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Ethics

News Producers to PR Professionals: ‘Live Up to That Name Please!’

Public-Relations-Help-Photo-Lucy-from-Charlie-Brown

Some of us aren’t crazy about the moniker “flacks.” Even more are adverse to being called “spin doctors.” The term many embrace in this profession is “PR professional.”

The reason? Public relations people want to be considered pros at their jobs. They do much more than pitch and play. They want to convey expertise in a title and hope our colleagues in the media will see that professional ability every time. One catch: being professional in the process. 

That’s fine but if you are going to use that title, I have a request on behalf of many assignment desk editors and news producers: “Act like it!” Apparently, there have been issues.

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Top Firms Would Do Anything for Money, But They Won’t Do THAT

the world for sale

Recently we reported on the large number of publicity firms willing to represent foreign dictators (turns out London has cornered the market on that demographic).

There’s one group of clients that our colleagues across the pond won’t touch, however: climate change deniers. Read more

More Bloggers Using PR Services to Solicit Free Stuff

EMPTY BOX

We all know that Help A Reporter Out and Profnet are great tools for PR pros and that product reviews by prominent bloggers are great for clients.

But what about those social media entrepreneurs who use the service to explicitly request free stuff? And how does this square with pay-for-play ethical boundaries?

After the jump, a couple of examples from bloggers who, frankly, don’t have a whole hell of a lot of leverage to make such requests.

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When Foreign Dictators Look for Good PR, They Look to London

230182-the-dictator

If you wanted to, there’s a lot you could say right now about PR’s influence in the world of foreign affairs: Gaza, Putin, who is winning, who is losing, etc…but the most interesting question may be who is profiting?

“… [I]ncreasingly, governments look to PRs and lobbyists to give their image a scrub. What it is, is reputation laundering. What they are buying is a good image in political centres like Brussels and Washington, in the international and financial media and with investors. Governments and dictators will look overseas for this type of expertise, and London has become the place to go for it.”

London is profiting (to the tune of roughly £7.5 billion per year), and VICE UK’s Jack Gilbert is naming names: Bell Pottinger, Portland Communications, and more.

In a must-read article published today on VICE, Gilbert puts the hard questions to Tamasin Cave, director of Spinwatch (a PR watchdog organization) for an excellent expose.

Highlights after the jump.

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Obama Administration Locks Out White House Press Corps (Again)

obama white house

In a word… Yes!

To quote a poet laureate somewhere in the annals of baseball, “It’s like deja vu all over again.”

You may recall a story last week about journalism groups, led by the Society for Professional Journalists, demanding the Obama Administration open up the doors to give them the access they were promised almost seven long years ago. Now, someone in the White House is at it again.

And this time, it gets even shadier because the meetings in question concerned two top Democratic Super PACs.

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The NFL Shows How Much It Cares About Domestic Violence

ray rice

With all the hubbub about civil unrest in the Middle East, Ukranian dissent and Comic-Con, you may have missed the slap heard ’round the world.

No, not the one that Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice landed on his (for now) wife that knocked her out so cold that he dragged her unconscious body out of an elevator.

We mean one the NFL delivered in response to that cowardly act by Rice: Suspended for two whole games. For those not in the know, if you smoke a joint and get caught in the NFL, you’ll be suspended for four games.

See the problem now?

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Raleigh Firm Attributes Fake Release to Mayor’s Office

FAKE release

(Pic via newsobserver.com)

Yesterday the Raleigh, North Carolina-based firm Misner & Associates defended its decision to issue a press release falsely attributed to the city’s mayor Nancy McFarlane and her communications team.

The release, created to promote a biker festival run by Misner client Ray Price, was printed on what looked like official city letterhead and mailed to local publications; the “letter” listed the mayor’s spokeswoman as a contact alongside Scott Misner himself.

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Sky News Reporter Goes Looting Through Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Luggage (for News)

sky news luggageJust when you think network news can’t get any worse, ratings rears its ugly head and forces reporters to do things you never thought possible outside of a lawsuit. This time, the ne’er-do-well culprit is the UK’s Sky News (a Rupert Murdoch joint).

Tragically, the victim is, again, Malaysia Airlines.

With MH370, the flight seemed to vanish into the ether, like all those horror stories about the Bermuda Triangle. And just when the airliner had that atrocious “breaking news” down to a minimum, the unthinkable happened over the Ukrainian coast as MH17 was shot down…presumably by separatists in the region.

And then Sky News went rummaging through the luggage of the dead passengers on live television.

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Another Reporter Quits Kremlin-Funded News Network Because Truth and Ethics

Steven Segal RT News

Man, they get all the good interviews.

Just when you think you have lost hope in network news, a story like this comes along trying to restore that faith. Now, if only you can get over the fact it’s from MOSCOW! Yes, really.

The RT is a Russian news network that has one huge setback in that “unbiased reporting” angle — it is completely funded by the Russian government and Putin runs the thing. You can imagine no one is talking to smack to that president on-air right?

ICYMI, there’s a little news in the Ukraine about a “tragic mistake,” which some Ukrainian officials have called shooting down a Malaysian passenger jet mistaken for the enemy. Despite that horrific murder of 295 people, the RT is in full spin mode, which caused one reporter to grow a set of ethics and quit.

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PBS Idea Channel’s Mike Rugnetta Tries to Wrangle Rules for Internet Spoiler Alerts

spoiler alert

Spoiler. Alert. Think about it.

If the Internet could receive a huge #PRFail, it would be because of spoiler alerts. (This means you too, social #$@*’n media.)

They are the worst, but it’s not the problem of the Internet to police your work schedule or the fact that you have to DVR a certain event. It’s your fault for trolling the Internet in the first place if you haven’t watched your recording anyway, right?

To that end, they do suck and the great Mike Rugnetta of PBS Idea Channel has tried to do the inconceivable: create rules for these dreaded appendages of the Internet that reach out and choke the very hope out of people everywhere.

And it’s compelling stuff too.

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