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  • August 2006
    S M T W T F S
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Subject: You’re fired

In an display of excellent (read: unconscionable) communication skills, RadioShack recently followed through with its plans to dismiss 400 people at their Fort Worth headquarters WITH AN EMAIL.

ABC News (link) writes “Employees at the Fort Worth headquarters received an e-mail Tuesday morning telling them they were being dismissed immediately.”

No doubt internal communicator pundits (Shel, Ron, others) are having a stroke about this, and well they should be. HR people, PR people, and any other people with souls should be shaking their heads at this. I’m not sure what to say about this, but…wow.

There must be a logical reason why calling those employees (albeit, not a fun job) into a meeting (one-on-one, 100 at a time, all at once) and have the decency to tell them to their faces that they were being let go was considered an unreasonable concept.

Maybe the company, feeling the rocky road of low margins, decided it was too time consuming and would have adversely affected the bottom line. Sadly, it must have worked, ABC reports “Shares of RadioShack rose 29 cents, or 1.6 percent, to close at $18.21 Wednesday on the New York Stock Exchange.”

I knew there was a reason besides crappy products, deplorable service, and hapless employees that I didn’t like RadioShack.


The Good-Bye Daily

I’ve posted before (actually here and on Forward) about the supposed demise of newspapers. I didn’t buy it.

Even Harold Burson said that PR should be so lucky to be in the shoes of the newspaper industry.

But I don’t know…
Sure, this isn’t a surprise to anyone. But as someone recently involved in media relations as part of my new job, I can tell you that getting someone to cover your news is nearly impossible as it is. I mean, this is stuff that would actually be considered news, newsworthy, worth takin’ a look at, something to write home about. But getting someone to write column inches about it is a different story. Especially with newspapers slashing staff.

The newspaper industry is affecting more than the newspaper industry, it will trickle down. Media giants will continue to snap up small newspapers and radio stations. Local news will become antiquated and we’ll all be force fed the same tripe from city to city, from print to video. Except for those little community newspapers. I mean, it might not be journalism, news, or even proper grammar sometimes, but it’s targeted and relevant. And thank goodness we have online. But clients and CEOs still want print, they want actual ink. And they don’t understand what’s happening in the industry ’cause they have their own industries to worry about. And this is mine to worry about…

Long Term Strategery

I think most PR professionals would agree that PR is best as a long-term strategic plan. I know there are quick and dirty ways to do certain aspects of PR. Publicity springs to mind, as well as developing a crisis communication message for a client who calls in a panic.

But it’s best when it’s done carefully and strategically.

Or you could say it’s best when it’s done with common sense and a touch of ethical behavior.

Or you could say, as my co-worker and I have decided, that good PR is Strategery and Truthiness. In fact, we’ve made that our office mantra. But strategery is a made-up word poking fun at the president, I can hear the critics say. And Truthiness is, by Colbert’s definition, truth without fact, but with feeling. So how does that relate to PR? Well, strategery is just fun as hell to say. Truthiness is a little more difficult. PR people are already considered subhuman, unethical Kool-aid pushers. But we shouldn’t be. Truthiness is telling people what you believe is the truth because you feel it. Pitching is telling the truth as you see it. I hope you honestly believe you’ve got the best widget on the market and you’re trying to spread that news. I hope your issues management is based on the belief that you feel your corporation or client really has gotten a raw deal. Truthiness isn’t spin or lying, it’s telling how you believe it is. ‘Cause seriously, isn’t all cola chemically the same? Sure it is, but to believe that your brand has something others don’t is true. Because cola and the brand are not the same. After all, aren’t we all brand ambassadors? Don’t we all believe our products and services are different? Don’t we all speak with truthiness? (mixed with the actual *gasp* truth!?)

Richard Edelman wrote a post the other day that resonated with me. He took quite a few hits for it, too, in the comments (those of you who want to see case studies of blogs by executives who allow the negative comments – here’s one). He walks a fine line. PR people have the reputation of doing whatever it takes to spin the story or show only the good. Well, sure, people do that. More PR people do it than would admit it. Some are proud of it. But I maintain that true PR is still pure, and I imagine it gets harder and harder to do proper PR the larger your agency (or corporation) gets, the larger and more demanding your clients (or superiors) are.

I believe that PR students, APRs, ABCs, IABC members, CIPR members, PRSA members, and the myriad other ethical PR organization members want to do the right thing. That these people want to be telling the good stories, pitching the products properly, acting creatively and ethically. But it’s difficult. The lines blur, the ideas seem okay at the time, unlike those practices you see those other flacks engaging in.

Richard writes:

“PR firms have the right to be advocates for their clients. What they cannot do is dissemble about client or motive. Nor can they put up content, then take it down after achieving the desired viral effect. We should stop thinking that short term tactical advantage is intelligent strategy. The best public relations is done in the open, with real debate on the issues. Our job is to provide full information to facilitate better decision making. As Harold Burson notes in the Der Spiegel article, ‘PR is about doing good and being recognized for it.'”

Let’s all hope that’s what PR really is. That at the end of the day people really are doing good. That we don’t get buried under the questionable practices that we all deny. That we can turn this image around. That at the heart of every PR person is strategery and truthiness.

Friday Frivolity

Why doesn’t my blog spell checker recognize the words:








Social media my eye, there’s nothing social about these programs, they don’t even recognize each other!

Vocus buys PRWeb

Huh. Here’s the press release.

Friday Frivolity

Oh, the laughter one can find on the web. Today’s frivolity comes from the across the pond in Ireland with Tom Raftery. I love Tom’s Podleaders – Thought Leaders podcast for so many reasons. He interviews some of social media’s brightest bulbs as well as the web’s newest stars. Plus, he’s got that wicked cool accent.

Tom’s recent unfortunate interview no-show left him on hold for 17 minutes listening to hold music. Well, he did what any geek tech interviewer/blogger would do: He asked his carefully prepared interview questions anyway. Visit Tom’s site and download the five-minute podcast or stream it right from the site. Incredibly funny. Be sure to read the comments on Tom’s blog post about it, too, they add so much to the hilarity.

Thanks again, Tom, you’ve inspired me to turn every possible negative situation into a potential frivilous moment.