By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
In recent posts, The PRDude addressed has addressed decidedly non-public relations type of subjects:
- The impact of the May NATO Summit on my city.
- Advice for new college graduates.
- Thoughts on commemorating Earth Day.
Now, it’s back to basics: commenting on public relations or references to the practice. An online post that appeared a few days ago sparked my interest, while at the same time brought on borderline rage.
Here’s a link to the post in question, which appeared twice this week in an online newsletter published by Commpro.biz. The commentary actually is well-conceived and I somewhat agree with the author. But there are two aspects of the headline that I find offensive, inaccurate and inflammatory:
“Grading Obama: The President Commits a Horrific PR Blunder in His Friday Economics Press Conference.”
The author was offering a critique on President Obama’s comment, “The private sector is doing fine,” in relation to jobs and the economy. The President made the comment at a news conference June 1.
1. Let’s start with the use of the word “horrific.” I visited the Free Online Dictionary site and found this definition for the word: “grossly offensive to decency or morality; causing horror.”
Now it’s your turn. When you think of something that causes horror, does a presidential news conference come to mind? Not me. Perhaps a mining disaster, or what’s left of a town following an F-5 tornado, but not some perhaps poorly chosen words from an elected official, even if he’s the leader of the free world. The author even offers seven reasons why the six words spoken by the President constitutes “a horrific blunder.”
My response to this blatant hyperbole: “Horse feathers,” but you can fill in another word that means the same thing.
2. The President made the statement in question at a news conference. He was fielding questions from newsmen and women. That’s part of his job. He was not practicing “public relations,” at least as I define and envision effective modern public relations to be.
Professional communicators who craft strategies and distribute messages on behalf of the President and his administration practice public relations. Perhaps the President made a political blunder, but I don’t believe it had anything to do with public relations, which too often gets lumped with anything that goes wrong. Read my post on the fallout from the 2010 Gulf oil rig tragedy to get another perspective.
Those of us who truly believe in the value of effective public relations should muster our collective resources to comment on situations like this one. Otherwise, we’ll continue to shake off the derogatory references to “flack” and “spin doctor.”
There. I feel better. Now, it’s your turn.