Monday, June 2, 2008

Blame Public Relations Redux

So Andrew Cohen at CBS piles on in the Scott McClellan slap fight and PRSA responds by … well … taking it.

Oh Jeffrey Julin sat down and wrote a very strongly worded letter. He even waved his Code of Ethics around to show he was serious. It’s almost as if they thought they could convince Cohen of their sincerity by lightening it up with a pithy turn on Cohen’s original “turkey is an eagle” zinger.

They’re cute.

The audience the society should be playing to is not Cohen or even his corporate masters at CBS Corporation. The audiences that need convincing are PRSA members, unaffiliated practitioners (ugh), clients, employers, corporate managers, boards, shareholders … you get the picture.

This is what Joshua Micah Marshall referred in another context as the Bitch-Slap Theory.
One way -- perhaps the best way -- to demonstrate someone's lack of toughness or strength is to attack them and show they are either unwilling or unable to defend themselves -- thus the rough slang I used above. And that I think is a big part of what is happening here. Someone who can't or won't defend themselves certainly isn't someone you can depend upon to defend you.

PRSA offers no evidence other than its own credibility – the questioning of which was the entire point of Cohen’s original rant. No suggestion that the organization Cohen represents has any culpability in any of the mess. Not a word about the number of PRSA members and other PR … folks CBS employs. Or the company’s investment.

Nowhere does their complaint point out that in addition to being a TV news commentator … an occupation only slightly less trusted than public relations, Mr. Cohen is a lawyer. As a lawyer, maybe once or twice he represented a client. (Hard to say for sure as he wasn’t at it very long.) Maybe a client or two wasn’t completely clean. Or honest. Or innocent. Perhaps he prepared a witness for a deposition. (‘Just answer the question. Don’t volunteer information.’)

Julin mines none of this material. He sticks to his code of ethics and his high road.

If PRSA is not going to fight back, they should at least learn to duck.

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1 comment:

tanyaa said...

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