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Hey PR, Welcome to Our World
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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The want for truth and ethics in the world of communications is not an old one. When one of our bad apples does something stupid, the entire industry gets the blame for it. This has been the fight advertising has been waging for decades. Since the 1960s there have been scores of organizations and efforts to make "truth in advertising" an across-the-board reality. Advertising has made some strides, though the regular consumer still believes that in more cases than not, advertising is telling them untruths.

Now public relations is being added to the mix.

Public relations hasn't always had a great rap; during the mudraking years of journalism, those journalists and public relations professionals gave each other the affectionate terms of "hacks" and "flacks" respectively. But since then, public relations, as an industry, has developed a stellar reputation (though many PR pros still have to explain to their families what they actually do).

That is, until one of their bad apples said something stupid.

PR Daily is covering the questionable tactics that Illinois firm Champion Media Worldwide has been allegedly engaging in. The article says that Champion Media charges clients several hundred dollars a day for "guaranteed" TV placement. According to the sources quoted, the firm promises placement on national TV shows and networks like the O Network and the Rachael Ray Show.

If you are unfamiliar with public relations, promising a national TV placement is like telling a client or brand marketer that the ad campaign we're doing will guarantee a 100% boost in revenue. 

Of course it's likely untrue.

So was Champion Media being overconfident? Were they readily taking people who didn't know the process, or is this a major knee-jerk reaction from an industry that is poised to respond to anything under a moment's notice?

It's hard to say. 

But we do appreciate the strong reactions from PR professionals. We regularly see advertising under attack by "consumer advocacy" groups and anti-advertisers, while AdLand is as quiet as a mouse. Though the PR world and AdLand are similar, there seems to be a big difference between the two professions. While many of our colleagues shrink back into the shadows while they watch our bAD apples make a poor name for advertising, these PR pros leave the shadows to defend their industry.

I guess we can learn a thing or two from the PR world after all.


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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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