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.

Joe Thornley, Martin Waxman, and Gini Dietrich set the stage for PR and the Murdoch affair and discuss who we, as PR professionals, are responsible to.

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.


Do you have an idea for a topic you would like us to discuss? Send us an email or an audio comment to [email protected], join the Inside PR Facebook group, leave us a comment here, message us @inside_pr on Twitter, or connect with Gini DietrichJoe Thornley, and Martin Waxman on Twitter.

Our theme music was created by Damon de SzegheoRoger Dey is our announcer.

This week’s episode was produced by Kristine Simpson.


  1. Sorry but the idea of marketing working in the best interest of the customer and PR in the public interest is just nonsense. Great if the various interests coincide, but in reality organizations make business decisions – and unprofitable businesses with happy customers will cease to exist. Or look at it another way, the 7.5 million readers of the News of the World were quite happy with their Sunday read and didn’t care where the stories came from on the whole. From a PR perspective, it is impossible most of the time to even define “public interest” and claiming this underpins PR work is pure hubris or self-delusion.

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