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PR in the News, by any other Name

PR in the News, by any other Name

Cross-posted on Flack’s Revenge

Awhile back I wrote about the terms that typically surround “public relations” and “publicity” in news reports.  I included a word cloud that showed the prevalence of a dark set of descriptions (e.g. crisis, nightmare, disaster, etc.) As I said then, these words can negatively color the field.

But lately I have noted that there are many types of stories that show the influence of PR without calling it that. Here are a few examples I have in mind:

Charm Offensive

I love this one because it is also an oxymoron.  People, governments or companies generally launch a charm offensive when they want to improve their image.  They arrange interviews and TV appearances, and put on their best behavior, as a way of saying to the public “Hey folks! I’m really not that bad, am I?”

Who are leading charm offenders these days? A search of the phrase on Google News showed Vladimir Putin, China and North Korea at the top of the list (see the word cloud illustration).


Control of Narrative

Let’s face it, if you want PR, it is much better to have a narrative – that is, a story that the public knows and cares about (or carefully crafted image, as some might cynically say) – than to be unknown.  The danger is to lose control of one’s narrative.  Here, I am thinking of Chris Christie and Justin Bieber, two obvious and timely examples.

Michael Wolff wrote a good story on this for USA Today:The Importance of ‘Controlling the Narrative’.

Publicity Stunts and Events

Actually, here’s another: most in the media would not want to admit interest in events that are clearly contrived for publicity purposes; yet some stunts can offer an all-too-tempting muse for busy reporters who need to fill white space, sometimes they just can’t resist.

Here’s a cool example that should resonate in tech PR circles; TheNextWeb covered chip vendor Nvidea’s launch of a new processor, that was cleverly communicated via an event: the creation of a crop circle that helped illustrate the chip and its benefits.


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