Archive for April 2005

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[eccr] The Weekly Spin, April 6, 2005

Wed Apr 06 16:31:39 GMT 2005

>THE WEEKLY SPIN, April 6, 2005
>sponsored by the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy
>To support our work now online visit:
>The Weekly Spin features selected news summaries with links to
>further information about media, political spin and propaganda.
>It is emailed free each Wednesday to subscribers.
>Who do you know who might want to receive Spin of the Week?
>Help us grow our subscriber list!  Just forward this message to
>people you know, encouraging them to sign up at this link:
>1. Will  "Fake News" Survive?
>1. A Tick for Irresponsibility
>2. The CORE of Biotech PR
>3. Suing Them Softly
>4. Ad Students Create Agent C for the Agency
>5. Medialink Drives Auto Coverage
>6. Xenophobic Purple People Meters
>7. Wal-Mart's Media Greeters
>8. I'd Like to Teach the World to Spin
>9. Crisis Management, Ketchum Style
>10. U.S. Army Toons for Middle Eastern Tots
>11. Another Kind of Fake News
>12. Reporters and Soldiers on Embedding
>13. Duck and Cover II: Washington DC's Expensive Sequel
>14. No-See-Um VNRs A "Crisis" For PR Industry
>15. Clear Communications
>16. Not Using VNRs "Would Be Negligent," Says Medialink Head
>17. Unhappy Days Are Here Again for Fleishman-Hillard
>by Bob Burton
>   Will ongoing investigations and public outrage be sufficient to end
>   the debased media practices that result in "fake news"?
>        Producers of the fake TV news stories called video news
>   releases (VNRs) hope not. Some are worried, though. "Crisis" is the
>   word Kevin McCauley of the public relations trade publication
>   O'Dwyer's used in a recent column.
>        VNR producers are struggling to find allies, even within the PR
>   industry. For the last three weeks, O'Dwyer's has been running an
>   online poll asking, "Should there be a limit on the U.S.
>   Government's use of video news releases?" Seventy-two percent of
>   respondents to date support VNR restrictions. (O'Dwyer's doesn't
>   disclose the number of respondents.)
>        VNR producers may very well be thanking their lucky stars for
>   the Bush White House.
>For the rest of this story, visit:
>   The 2005 Corporate Responsibility Index, published by the Sydney
>   Morning Herald and The Age, ranks British American Tobacco (BAT) as
>   amongst the six worst performers out of the twenty-seven companies
>   included. The index is based on corporate self-assessments reviewed
>   by Ernst & Young accountants. The index table features a bold tick
>   of approval for BAT, which the key explains means it scored "less
>   than 75%," the lowest category. In a letter to the editor,
>   University of Sydney public health professor Simon Chapman asked,
>   "Why so coy in giving the actual score?" After calculating that BAT
>   Australia is responsible for 8,550 avoidable deaths, Chapman scored
>   the company at zero. He also requested "that those organising the
>   CRI index don't debase the corporate responsibility movement in
>   future by allowing tobacco companies to enter."
>SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald, April 5, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   U.S. agribusiness giant Monsanto recently announced it was raising
>   its earnings expectations. "Monsanto's genetically engineered seed
>   sales are booming - a 20 per cent increase last quarter - and the
>   company expects the growth to continue as it expands outside the
>   U.S.," AP reported" target="_blank">AP reported. One reason may be
>   Monsanto's extensive use of PR. GM Watch's Jonathan Matthews looks
>   at the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), a U.S.-based civil rights
>   group with ties to Monsanto that has become an outspoken advocate of
>   GE foods. Matthews reports on CORE's claims that the global
>   environmental movement's opposition to biotech is "lethal
>   eco-imperialism" and "devastates families and communities and kills
>   millions every year." At CORE's annual Martin Luther King, Jr.
>   dinner this year, they honored Karl Rove with a "Public Service
>   Award." Monsanto's CEO Hugh Grant chaired the dinner with Option One
>   Mortgage's president and CEO Bob Dubrish.
>SOURCE: Freezerbox, March 14, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Hugh Morgan, the President of the Business Council of Australia
>   (BCA), lashed out at a proposal by state attorney generals to
>   prevent corporations from suing for defamation. Morgan wrote that
>   the BCA - which includes among its members the Australian CEOs of
>   McDonald's, BP and Shell - believes that corporations are "suing
>   only in exceptional circumstances." According to Morgan - who gained
>   notoriety for his outbursts against the Aboriginal community, unions
>   and environmentalists - corporations must "defend their reputations
>   from false, dishonest or malicious campaigns." The Australian
>   Financial Review reported that the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, a
>   BCA member, was suing the Finance Sector Union on the grounds that a
>   "shareholder campaign targeting ordinary, corporate and employee
>   shareholders" before the company's November 2004 general meeting
>   constituted illegal industrial action.
>SOURCE: Australian Financial Review, April 5, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Advertising students at New York University are running a marketing
>   campaign for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The students and
>   their professor Jacob Jacoby created Agent C Marketing, which
>   developed and is currently implementing a campaign that promotes its
>   sole client, the CIA, to college students as an "exceptional
>   employer." The marketing effort includes print advertisements, "cool
>   CIA stuff" giveaways, and a scavenger hunt scheduled for April 8.
>   (The speaker event was cancelled, "to prevent any potential harm
>   that may escalate from a protest.") The CIA-NYU partnership was
>   organized by EdVenture, a marketing firm that provides "both
>   one-of-a-kind educational value to students and educators while
>   reciprocally providing clients with marketing, brand building,
>   research, sales and recruiting access to campuses across the
>   country." Other EdVenture clients include General Motors, Citibank,
>   the Federal Bureau of Investigation and People Magazine.
>SOURCE: Washington Square News, February 15, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Under a new agreement, the video news release company Medialink
>   Worldwide "will produce programs about auto-related topics for
>   WheelsTV, a cable TV and Internet service devoted exclusively to
>   consumers' interests in cars, trucks and motorcycles." Medialink's
>   "sponsored and non-sponsored content" will start appearing on
>   WheelsTV in June. The companies "will also explore developing new
>   opportunities, such as co-branded radio series serving the
>   sponsorship base of both companies," reports O'Dwyer's. Medialink
>   has already produced a "prepackaged news program for General
>   Motors," which "began with statistics on arthritic Americans" and
>   promoted GM's "Sit-N-Lift" powered seat.
>SOURCE: O'Dwyer's PR Daily (sub. req'd.), April 4, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   U.S. Republican pollster Frank Luntz traveled to Britain, "to
>   examine the mood of the voters." According to 30 "swing voters"
>   using "people meters," George Bush may be Tony Blair's biggest
>   liability. Luntz wrote, "We showed them the first few moments of the
>   recent White House press conference where President Bush and Mr.
>   Blair stood side-by-side and talked about 'a clear way forward' in
>   Iraq. The dials plummeted. Never in 17 years of moderating
>   people-meter sessions have I seen an audience react so negatively."
>   Adding that "nothing riles the undecideds ... more than
>   immigration," Luntz suggested, "If the Conservatives have the
>   courage to tackle the immigration issue head-on, and the skill to
>   avoid crossing the fine line into race-baiting, they can recapture
>   many working-class Labour seats."
>SOURCE: Times Online, April 4, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   "As part of its ongoing effort to improve its image, Wal-Mart is
>   hosting its first-ever media conference for 50 invited print
>   journalists this week near company headquarters in Arkansas,"
>   reports PR Week. "We are doing this to send a clear signal of
>   Wal-Mart's willingness to be open with the media," said a company
>   spokesperson. Wal-Mart "plans to make the media event an annual one
>   and to expand it to broadcast outlets." The AFL-CIO union will
>   demonstrate outside the conference. In related news, twenty-one
>   members of Congress sent a letter to ABC News protesting Wal-Mart's
>   sponsorship of Good Morning America's "Only in America" segment.
>   Representative Anthony Weiner said Wal-Mart's business practices
>   "cost thousands of Americans their jobs and businesses."
>SOURCE: PR Week (sub. req'd.), April 4, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   A Public Relations Society of America delegation to China met with
>   teachers, media, business officials, and the new Chinese Institute
>   of Public Relations. Ketchum's John Paluszek told China Daily,
>   "Every institution in society has a need for public relations,
>   because every institution has audiences or stakeholders," including
>   governments "that want to 'sell' an important issue." Jean Valin of
>   the Global Alliance for Public Relations noted that in China, where
>   PR is a relatively new discipline, practitioners are "strongly
>   involved in servicing the finance sector," but "will not be given
>   assignments which go against government policy."
>SOURCE: China Daily, March 31, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The PR company Ketchum boasts on its website that its issues and
>   crisis management expertise "helps clients plan rational strategies
>   to deal with difficult situations early -- before an issue or crisis
>   erupts." In written responses to questions from PR Week about the
>   firm's role in the Armstrong Williams controversy, Ketchum CEO Ray
>   Kotcher said they didn't publicly comment for a week because, while
>   "it was tempting to clarify the dialogue," the firm "needed to
>   establish the facts." The facts, as reported by USA Today and
>   confirmed by Kotcher, are that Williams was paid $240,000 by
>   Ketchum, as a subcontractor on a Department of Education contract to
>   promote the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law. The contract included a
>   stipulation, Kotcher confirmed, "that Williams would talk about NCLB
>   on his show."
>SOURCE: PR Week (sub. req'd.), April 1, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   "In order to achieve long-term peace and stability in the Middle
>   East, the youth need to be reached," explained the U.S. government,
>   in an ad seeking artists for an "original comic book series" to help
>   Middle Eastern youth "learn lessons, develop role models and improve
>   their education." The U.S. Army's Fourth Psychological Operations
>   Group at Fort Bragg in North Carolina has done initial character and
>   plot development and will produce the series. The series will be
>   based on "the security forces, military and police, in the near
>   future of the Middle East." The Fourth Psychological Operations
>   Group has "been deployed during conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan
>   dropping leaflets and cartoons urging surrender and broadcasting
>   pro-American messages via radio and television."
>SOURCE: BBC News, March 31, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   "The two dirty words of market research," writes Carl Bialik, are
>   "sponsored by." One example is a recent Microsoft-funded study,
>   which found that "Microsoft was the company respondents most
>   associated with reliable, high-quality hardware peripherals." The
>   problem is that "the other choices" survey participants were given
>   "weren't household names. ... Had the question been flipped to ask
>   which company was least associated with reliable, high-quality
>   hardware peripherals, Microsoft might well have won that one, too."
>   The proliferation of sponsored studies is due, in part, to the
>   press. "While many sponsored studies spawn no articles or are
>   covered negatively, others receive undeserved attention -- at least
>   enough to spur companies to keep funding more studies."
>SOURCE: Wall Street Journal (reg. req'd.), March 31, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Gina Cavallaro, who's traveled to Iraq four times to report for the
>   Army Times, has mixed feelings about embedding journalists. "The
>   media is afraid ... and rightly so," she said. "They're relying more
>   on the military to get them where they want to go, and as a result,
>   the military is getting smarter about getting its own story told."
>   But, she added, "I don't necessarily consider that a bad thing."
>   Iraq War veteran Paul Rickhoff, who started Operation Truth "to tell
>   the public the truth of the war from a soldier's perspective," feels
>   that "embedding reporters actually limits the stories they can
>   tell." If reporters don't "play along," he said, "next time they'll
>   deny you access."
>SOURCE: The Hill, March 31, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The giant PR firm Burson-Marsteller won a $4.6 million contract from
>   the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, for two to seven months'
>   work. The contract, awarded under the Urban Area Security
>   Initiative, is "for the development and implementation of a regional
>   public awareness and education campaign for a major emergency or
>   disaster, such as a terrorist act," in the Washington DC area. The
>   goal "is to have 50% of people in the national capital area report
>   that they've taken steps to be prepared." Burson-Marsteller will do
>   PR and outreach, and "partner with ad and community-outreach
>   agencies." One-third to one-half of the budget is slated for
>   advertising.
>SOURCE: PR Week (reg. req'd.), March 31, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Kevin McCauley at O'Dwyers PR Daily writes that despite video news
>   release producers' hopes that the debate over fake news "would just
>   blow away," it has become a "crisis" for the industry. "A simple
>   solution," he suggests, is labeling VNRs. "A corporate or government
>   credit on video material wouldn't matter much to today's TV
>   watchers, especially younger ones who are bombarded with
>   advertising," he wrote. Kevin Foley, the president of KEF Media
>   Associates, responded that labeling is already "done by every
>   responsible company in this business." However, two weeks ago Doug
>   Simon of D S Simon Productions explained that there is a world of
>   difference between labeling the opening frame that news producers
>   see and labeling each VNR frame that viewers see. In tracking the
>   use of his company's VNRs, Simon said, "Fewer than 10 percent of the
>   pieces we get back have some sort of identification."
>SOURCE: O'Dwyers PR Daily (reg. req'd.), March 30, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   Radio behemoth Clear Channel Communications created the position of
>   Chief Communications Officer and named their Senior Vice-President
>   of Corporate Communications, Lisa Dollinger, to the post. The
>   position includes "corporate communications and branding, reputation
>   and issues management ... media relations, consumer viral marketing,
>   strategic sponsorships," but will focus on internal communications.
>   Two years ago, Dollinger joined the company to battle negative media
>   coverage. "We had to clear the decks and let the media know they
>   couldn't repeat inaccuracies about the company," she said. About
>   Clear Channel's sponsorship of rallies in the lead-up to the Iraq
>   invasion, Dollinger said the events were "not intended to be
>   pro-military," but "more of a thank you to the troops."
>SOURCE: Houston Chronicle, March 29, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   In a Fox News interview, Laurence Moskowitz, the CEO and President
>   of Medialink Worldwide, defended video news releases (VNRs). "If the
>   government doesn't use VNR as a tool, I believe they would be
>   negligent," he said. Medialink is the largest global producer of
>   VNRs. Moskowitz estimated that some 4,000 VNRs are produced by
>   corporate and government sources each year. Bob Priddy, the chair of
>   the Radio-Television News Directors Association, said airing VNRs
>   without the sponsor being identified breaks the Association's code
>   of ethics. "If people take canned material, whether it's from a
>   government agency or anywhere else, and they don't tell their
>   audience who or where it is coming from, they are lying to their
>   consumer," he told Fox.
>SOURCE: Fox News, March 30, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
>   The former manager of Fleishman-Hillard's (F-H) Los Angeles office
>   Douglas R. Dowie is suing the PR company for sacking him from his
>   $370,000 a year job over the overbilling of the Los Angeles
>   Department of Water and Power (DWP). "When it got real hot
>   politically, Fleishman, instead of standing by him and protecting
>   him, they just threw him to the wolves," Dowie's attorney, Michael
>   Faber, said. City officials have disputed $4.2 million of F-H
>   billings between 1998 and 2004 under the $24 million DWP contract.
>   The lawsuit states that in a conference call with Dowie after the
>   controversy erupted, a F-H official said that someday "we'll all be
>   singing 'Happy Days are Here Again'," reports the Los Angeles Times.
>SOURCE: San Jose Mercury News, March 30, 2005
>For more information or to comment on this story, visit:
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