Tuesday, June 3, 2008

America's Heart Problem.

Vedo and I were discussing the Cohen/McClellan situation this morning and something struck me. Let's call it Jerry Maguire's disease. Forget all the "you complete me" side of that movie, I remember my incredible shock at the beginning as Jerry composed his treatise on everything that was wrong with his business. He was unceremoniously canned, spiraling his life into a somewhat inspiring romantic comedy. We should all have such luck, right?
The first act of that movie laid out an all-too-familiar scenario in America. Just a few weeks ago, I witnessed a candidate whipped by Tim Russert for changing their mind about major issues. Why, in America, are public people unable to change their minds on issues. New information comes to light. The world changes. For example, the way both parties talk about the environment has vastly changed in just the last 10 years.
So, I know there is more to this story. Those of us who weren't there can never truly understand the pressure McClellan was under. We can also not understand his heart now, in this situation. I venture to say that every person has the right to have a change of heart, and even to be disgusted by some of their own actions in looking back at their life. Isn't this what we call wisdom?

Pic courtesy - http://www.dvd.net.au/movies

Monday, June 2, 2008

A Hard Look in the Mirror.

Andrew Cohen of CBS News took a shot at PR professionals as liars. Many in the profession took incredible offense at the comment. Were they wrong to be offended? I say no, but conditionally. When I tell people at a party what I do, they crack a joke about me being a flack, putting "lipstick on a pig", etc. Any attempt at further explanation and they just get bored. The general public has opinions about lawyers, politicians, and yes...PR people.
That said, Cohen was fundamentally wrong about PR pros as paid liars. It reminded me of a story...
Early in my career, a colleague told me a story of being asked by his boss to lie on behalf of the organization. He took a long look in the mirror and decided no career was worth compromising himself. He did not lie. The person that asked him to lie was later arrested and he remained with the organization. Trust me, dear reader, this is not the only example like this.
I venture that all professionals are faced with some type of ethical dilemma within the scope of their career, whether it be cooking the books, lying, etc. The true measure of a professional is how they react. PR people are not able to simply ignore ethics as part of their job description. The issue is human, not job specific. So Cohen(a member of a traditionally picked-on profession) took a shot at PR, we can withstand it, BUT better - let's do our best to educate our co-workers, friends and clients of our true purpose.