Usually the Forbes business blog is pretty level-headed. Not, however, with a contribution by Aaron Perlut praising Pizza Hut for proposing to inject the question, "Sausage or Pepperoni?" into the last night's town-hall-style presidential debate. Pizza Hut itself tried to back away from that one, yet Perlut thinks the marketing ploy was inspired.
The problem is, Perlut argues, that there are fewer reporters on hand these days to read press releases. So companies need to be really creative to get the public's attention. Thus, the Pizza Hut people "cut through the clutter and harmlessly got some much-deserved run." Is that how you felt driving past a Pizza Hut after the story broke, and maybe are still upset by the tawdriness involved?
The problem Perlut misses is that PR and marketing are already viewed by much of the public as tacky callings. Public relations, its best practitioners will tell you, is supposed to be effectively relational. That means honestly, temperately, and assuredly relational. Is that what Pizza Hut's daffy attempt to capitalize on a presidential debate was? Most people likely think the pizza chain had a pretty thin crust there.
If PR becomes a craft of getting any sort of attention, it will really be in need of some reforming.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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