Jeff Jarvis unloaded a real roundhouse on PR and the News of the World affair and Rupert Murdoch’s appearance in front of Parliament.
The blog post discusses how coached Murdoch seemed during his appearance and how he completely missed transparency in his answers.
It’s an interesting topic, to begin with, because it seems impossible for people to disconnect how we (as a generalization) feel about a personality and the reality of what’s really going on. How the news media portrays a man and how we, as a society, condem him for something his employees he did.
But we all agree that, as leaders, it’s our jobs to take responsibility for the mistakes our employees make…even if we weren’t aware they were going on. The communication is something such as, “I don’t condone what my employees did. I take responsibility for their actions. And this is what I’m going to do about it.”
The conversation then turns to true PR, just like marketing, should be in the best interest of the customer. Not in the best interest of the company. Not in the best interest of the stakeholders. Not in the best interest of the employees. But in the best interest of the customer.
We all need to ask ourselves: Are we helping our clients spin a story (as you know, Spin Sucks) that makes them look better or are we helping them effectively communicate with their customers?
And the last point was one raised first by David Weinberger where he says:
If I were Edelman PR, I would probably agree to take on NewsCorp, but only if I were satisfied to a reasonable degree (yes, them’s fudge words) that NewsCorp was ready to tell the truth. (Clients do lie to their PR companies. The first time Edelman catches NewsCorp lying to them, Edelman should quite publicly drop them.)
From there we discuss how our jobs, as PR professionals, is to be there for the public interest and to tell the truth.
Joe raises the question of hubris of the super rich. He wonders, aloud, if they feel like they’re above the law and don’t have to be honest with anyone, including their agency.
All three of us hope that is the case with Rupert Murdoch. We hope the industry isn’t shady enough that our peers would suggest their client lie and blame his or her employees without taking any responsibility. But maybe we’re all really naive.
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This week’s episode was produced by Kristine Simpson.