The former governor of my home state of Illinois has uttered some questionable statements since being led by federal marshals from his home in handcuffs in December 2008. Then, he recently told Esquire magazine he was “blacker than Barack Obama,” reportedly because he grew up in a five-room apartment in a tough neighborhood of Chicago.
For the record: I grew up in a five-room apartment in a much, much tougher neighborhood of Chicago. Much tougher.
The news of Rod Blagojevich’s magazine comments hit the news over the weekend, prompting the former elected official to apologize. Quote: “What I said was stupid, stupid, stupid.” Well, I agree with him on one thing.
But this is a blog on public relations. While reading the news report on Mr. Blagojevich’s comments in today’s Chicago Tribune, I was struck by reference to, well, public relations.
The article states the piece in Esquire “represents a wasted opportunity for the ex-governor to proclaim his innocence, but his public-relations strategy focuses on more than just clearing his name.” Elsewhere in the piece, the reporters refer to Mr. Blagojevich’s “PR strategy” and “publicity team.”
“Public-relations strategy?” (The hyphens are the Tribune‘s.)
Perhaps I’m riding too high a horse at the moment, but I really don’t think Mr. Blagojevich or his “publicity team” has crafted what I maintain is a concerted public relations campaign. You know, one based on goals, strategies and objectives and driven by tactics.
One could make a counter point that the ex-governor, indeed is using public relations tactics as a way to build awareness for his innocence and pending federal trial. In case you missed it, he’s charged with a lot of serious stuff, including allegedly trying to sell the U.S. Senate seat held by the guy he stupidly said he was “blacker” than, Barack Obama.
My counter punch: I maintain a true public relations strategy should have some redeeming social value. What the ex-governor is trying to do, I think, is create a high public profile to sour the jury pool when his trial begins. It’s not public relations.
The Tribune piece is just an example of how public relations gets thrown into the discussion for all the wrong reasons. It also means those of us who practice public relations need to do a better job promoting our profession.