Our days are spent using public relations as a tool that can impact the news and shape public opinion—our work happens behind the scenes and out of sight. This week, however, we noticed how often PR became the news.
Plenty of companies commemorated the 9/11 milestone Tuesday. AT&T tweeted “Never forget” with an image of a phone projecting two beams of light representing the fallen Twin Towers. The backlash to AT&T’s PR tactic was fierce with vocal critics condemning AT&T for using a national tragedy to build brand awareness.
The New York Times ran an op-ed by Russian president Vladimir Putin in Thursday’s edition about the US response to events in Syria. Instead of the general reaction being about Putin’s argument or position, most reaction was about the opinion piece’s presence, with questions about why the paper would even publish an op-ed by the Russian president and the ethics of a PR firm’s role in securing the placement.
President Obama used a common PR tool for swaying the public opinion this week: he gave a speech. The content of the speech, however, was overshadowed by criticisms that the remarks were unspecific, unfocused, and did not offer any new information (some pretty fundamental PR, if you ask us). The speech became the news, not the content.
In a week when we focused on some visible PR around the country, it was interesting to see the country focus on some visible PR.