Saturday, June 21, 2008

Chapter President-Elect Sends Letter to PRSA about Andrew Cohen Rant

Related to my previous post about Andrew Cohen’s rant, our chapter’s president-elect,
Robert E. Sheldon, APR, sent a letter to PRSA’s president & CEO, Bill Murray. This was in response to the open letter the Murray released immediately after the CBS Sunday Morning show aired. Sheldon’s letters are below in their entirety (with his permission), I didn’t ask for Murray’s permission, so I’ve only summarized his comments.
Has anyone pointed out that Scott McClellan is not even a member of PRSA - and probably wouldn’t be able to abide by the Code of Ethics anyway? THAT should have been the whole point of the answer letter from PRSA - that what McClellan did was NOT public relations in the sense that PRSA defines it, it was bald-face, deceptive marketing. Reputable PR practitioners belong to PRSA and abide by the Code of Ethics. The reality is that we don’t set standards for the "PR profession," we only set standards for PRSA members. And we PRSA members are only a minority of all the people who profess to be in the public relations profession.
– Robert Sheldon, APR
Murray responded with a letter essentially stating that his strategy was to focus on conduct of all PR professionals, whether or not they are PRSA members, and to hold up the Code of Ethics as guide for all.

Sheldon sent the following in response.

Thanks for the quick reply. I agree that we need to promote our standards for the whole of the profession, but we also need to constantly clarify what is and is not public relations. In the public’s view, being a PR professional today is right up there with used car salesmen, snake-oil hucksters and greedy CEOs - because that’s all they see. But being a dissembling apologist for an unethical client is NOT public relations, in my view - it’s manipulative propaganda -- and PRSA needs to constantly tell the public what the difference is.
– Robert Sheldon, APR
We’d love to hear what you think.

Note: A misspelled name has been corrected on 7/1/08

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