By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)
Like a festering wound, each day the world learns more regarding the allegations of sexual misconduct and even physical assault by entertainment mogul Harvey Weinstein.
This space will not offer any analysis or commentary on Mr. Weinstein or other key developments related to this national news story.
Just stayed tuned to the network broadcast stations and read reports from digital and print media; you’ll get access to lots of news related to Mr. Weinstein and his current treatment program, whether members of The Weinstein Company board of directors ignored allegations of abuse, legal and financial implications related to this scandal, and of course, comments from women who had unwelcomed encounters.
Here I plan to address a report that Mr. Weinstein ordered people working as public relations counsel to fabricate and promote unflattering and untrue news stories about actresses and models.
This news came to me while watching the WGN-TV Morning News today. In a segment aired around 7:30 a.m., reporter Lauren Jiggetts recounts reporting from journalist Ronan Farrow of The New Yorker: “Weinstein’s public relations team would plant smear stories on women who rejected him or complained about his behavior,” Ms. Jiggetts noted in the report.
My thoughts related to this element of the unfolding Weinstein story:
1. First, no honest, ethical public relations practitioner would purposefully engage in disseminating information designed to cause harm. This type of garbage communication practice falls under propaganda and defies the established standard of public relations contributing to the betterment of society.
2. If these allegations about “smear stories” are true, I wonder if the perpetrators of this nonsense could be identified and held accountable in some way. What reputable company or organization would want to work with hacks who deliberately share lies designed to harm someone?
3. Rest assured, I’m fully aware that Hollywood (and government and other conglomerates) may operate on a very different level when it comes to values than other industries.
From one perspective, Hollywood and the entertainment business develops and markets products that are pure fantasy. However, the movie-makers, television show producers and concert promoters run businesses, and businesses must — or should — adhere to sound, accepted operational practices, not make believe ways of delivering a product or service, or coping with a crisis.
Employing purported “public relations” counsel (and in reference to this case I start to cringe) to cause damage is beyond fantasy.
It’s sickening to me, and hopefully to others who value honesty in communications today.