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Reich Communications, Inc.

  • Reich Communications, Inc. is a boutique public relations agency in New York City offering full service in a variety of areas, with specializations in business-to-business; advertising, marketing and media firms; transportation safety; non-profits, and select consumer products and services. For more info, visit www.reichcommunications.com or call us at (212) 573-6000. We are located at Suite 11 South, 228 East 45th Street, New York City 10017

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    « What's in a name? | Main | Network TV is Still King »

    May 12, 2011

    Comments

    Jeanne Byington


    David,

    I hope nobody covered BM's "news" proving that they, too, are untrained and unsupervised. A basic rule of PR is to make clear who/what you represent. If this isn't apparent, a reporter should know to ask before setting finger on keyboard or lips to microphone.

    I don't need PRSA or any other organization or their rules to run an ethical PR business. Most of us don't.

    My heart sinks when I read of any PR agency, big or small, that sleazes and cheats or I hear about any PR person who lies, overstates, and blah, blah, blahs his/her way to what he/she wants--be it a placement or a client.

    That said, I don't in any way feel that BM and the way it conducts its business reflects on my ethics. I have worked years to protect my reputation, as have you. It’s the most valuable thing any business person has.

    However something bad does happen when PR firms promise the world to clients and cheat to achieve unrealistic results: It inflates clients' expectations, setting standards that legitimate PR people can't meet.

    Some of BM's clients will look to smaller businesses to represent them. This will mean more business for those who conduct themselves the way they should. That's the good news.

    Judy Gombita

    via Twitter...

    Believe me, you do NOT want to be "shamed" by David!

    David Reich

    Here's an official statement from Burson Marsteller about this issue...
    This is from their online Newsroom.

    The following statement was released by Burson-Marsteller on May 12, 2011.

    "Now that Facebook has come forward, we can confirm that we undertook an assignment for that client.

    The client requested that its name be withheld on the grounds that it was merely asking to bring publicly available information to light and such information could then be independently and easily replicated by any media. Any information brought to media attention raised fair questions, was in the public domain, and was in any event for the media to verify through independent sources.

    Whatever the rationale, this was not at all standard operating procedure and is against our policies, and the assignment on those terms should have been declined. When talking to the media, we need to adhere to strict standards of transparency about clients, and this incident underscores the absolute importance of that principle."

    David Reich

    O'Dwyers has the story and then links to my 2 cents for "added perspective." Nice.

    http://www.odwyerpr.com/blog/index.php?/archives/2532-Facebook-Says-It-is-Mystery-Client-in-Burson-Flap.html

    Alan Hirsch

    The piece on "Shame on you, Burson Marsteller" was interesting but a little confusing because of the subjects it brought up. I'd like to address some of this "confusion."

    1. Article says "Some lack of respect may, unfortunately, be justified because many in PR act less than professionally."

    Response: Most lack of respect is justified, because most people in PR act less than professionally. This is to be expected, because anyone, anywhere only needs to say "I am in public relations" to be in public relations. It is exactly the same for other activities such as journalism, radio/tv, blogging, speechwriting, research, book and magazine writing, photography.

    This is not the case for professions such as law, medicine, dentistry, accounting, teaching. Here standards for knowledge must be met and yet all of us have plenty of complaints against lawyers, doctors, dentists, accountants and teachers. Incompetency is common even for those highly regulated professions, so why shouldn't there be great incompetency in the PR field, where there is no regulation.

    What should be understood is that many people working in many professions and/or crafts are incompetent. The PR field is not a solo practitioner for incompetency. It is just one of the players.

    2. "Good PR pros have to work even harder to prove ourselves because of the bad will caused by PR hacks and untrained/unsupervised junior people."

    We can say that for all professions and skills. It is especially easy to understand, if one has had the pleasure of having a bad teacher, a bad doctor or a bad lawyer.

    3. It's disheartening to read that Burson Marsteller has seriously breached the ethics of our profession.

    I'm not surprised that Burson has breached any ethics, any more than I am surprised at what happens in the NY State Senate, or at BP, or at the NYPD or the U.S. Naval Academy, or at the White House.

    I once had to threaten a major national pr firm when it was on a campaign to hire our (very small firm) employees, because they were good and they were trained properly. I simply said to its CEO that if he condoned the hiring of one more person from our staff that he would have a very big problem. The raiding of our staff stopped immediately.

    Why should Burson Marsteller be expected to conduct itself in an ethical manner, when our own NY State legislature allows its members to work for law firms and clients and not reveal who they are working for on the side? Conflict of interest?

    4. "When a shop like Burson pulls crap like this, maybe we simply don't deserve respect."

    You got that right, which reminds me of when my CEO tipped his hand and I discovered he would sell me down the river in an instant, even if I was 100 percent right in a client conflict. When I told him of my discovery that he would betray me on a dime, he said with a straight face "you got that right." I worked 20 more years for the guy but at least I knew the picture.

    David Reich

    Thanks for your thoughts, Alan.

    The guys at B-M probably were blinded by the money and let that trump ethics. But they got caught. I wonder how often this happens and we never hear about it.

    Ray M

    Wow. You've made PR into the "niggahs" of media, without the help of jack hole journos. Congrats.

    David Reich

    Ray, I don't appreciate your use of the N word on my space, even if you say it in quotes.

    I haven't made PR into anything, however. The honchos at Burson Marsteller, with their bad and greedy decision to accept a sleazy assignment, are the ones who have hurt the PR profession.

    Mary Deming Barber

    via Twitter ...

    Great piece!

    Seattle pr firms

    Whatever the reason, it was not the normal procedure and it is against our policy and the task, the conditions should have been rejected. When you talk to the media, we must comply with strict standards of transparency about clients, and this incident highlights the absolute importance of this principle. "

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