EDITORIAL: Sometimes less PR is the best PR

Looking at Harris Interactive's second annual survey of corporate reputation (see p. 6), it is apparent that the American public is way more fickle than the business community (as measured by the Fortune's 'Most Admired' list, (PRWeek, February 12)). Only three companies from last year's Top 10 are featured in the same list this year. Meanwhile, Ben & Jerry's, Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Gateway and Lucent have all nosedived down the charts.

Looking at Harris Interactive's second annual survey of corporate reputation (see p. 6), it is apparent that the American public is way more fickle than the business community (as measured by the Fortune's 'Most Admired' list, (PRWeek, February 12)). Only three companies from last year's Top 10 are featured in the same list this year. Meanwhile, Ben & Jerry's, Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Gateway and Lucent have all nosedived down the charts.

Looking at Harris Interactive's second annual survey of corporate reputation (see p. 6), it is apparent that the American public is way more fickle than the business community (as measured by the Fortune's 'Most Admired' list, (PRWeek, February 12)). Only three companies from last year's Top 10 are featured in the same list this year. Meanwhile, Ben & Jerry's, Coca-Cola, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Gateway and Lucent have all nosedived down the charts.

Amidst the turbulence, however, Johnson & Johnson sits nobly at the top, clinging on to its No.1 rating for the second year. The most pervasive quality of J&J's PR strategy? Its ability to tightly manage its messages.

To the enduring frustration of journalists, it shares with Procter & Gamble (in the Harris survey at 10, up from 22) the belief that the less publicity about it the better. To most media relations people, the strategy is pure torture.

But an information free-for-all is even worse if it feeds the reactive consumer's mind.

This ethos is now being adopted by AOL Time Warner. A report on Inside.com revealed that all PR staff must now keep written records of every conversation they make. Again, journalists are up in arms. But as a corporate strategy for a suddenly enormous company, which needs to knit itself together in private before saying too much publicly, it deserves respect.





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