US diplomacy needs PR strategies

I admire Ted Pincus' toughness and creativity, but I disagree with his ideas for correcting this country's global unpopularity ("Fixing US' image requires human touch," PRWeek, August 22).

I admire Ted Pincus' toughness and creativity, but I disagree with his ideas for correcting this country's global unpopularity ("Fixing US' image requires human touch," PRWeek, August 22).

As in the past, his Business for Diplomatic Action group has come up with nothing concrete aside from a declaration that past efforts have failed. We can't expect more than that from any part-time committee, however prestigious its members.

Pincus' brain child pictures Condoleezza Rice conducting "the first global quarterly fireside chat ... a 30-minute live broadcast on each quarter's first day ... in more than 50 languages. ..." He tells us that this is "not as far-fetched as you might think." I submit that it is: What stations, aside from those owned or subsidized by the US government, will clear time for something like this? We've already had one fiasco along these lines: Charlotte Beers, an advertising hotshot, produced a TV commercial intended to make friends for us in the Mideast, only to find that the independent stations in the area would not put in on the air.

At this stage, we don't need more tactics - we need strategies. We need implied third-party endorsements. These should be PR strategies, researched and developed by PR pros familiar with the target countries. The result should be short-, medium-, and long-term PR programs.

Karen Hughes, the government's incoming czar of "public diplomacy," is planning personal trips overseas to meet with ambassadors (The New York Times, August 21). Instead, she should hire PR firms with the requisite skills, experience, and competent management already in place.

I've spoken with firms of this sort at global conferences, and they are baffled by the US' apparent failure to use tools that were largely invented here.

Lee Levitt

Principal

Levitt Management Consultants

New York

Job safety not laughing matter for Americans

Safety is not something to laugh about. In reference to Lawrence Garrison's August 15 column, "Publicist union safety course excludes less obvious hazard," workplace safety may be funny to him, but it is a serious matter, especially for the 5,559 workers who lost their lives from on-the-job injuries in the US in 2003 and the 4.4 million more who suffered workplace injuries and illnesses - some that will affect them for the rest of their lives.

Let's not discount the families, friends, and colleagues of those workers who died that suffer from the pain of their loss.

Believe it or not, those that only "use a pen and paper" have more to worry about than you think. Ergonomic issues are one of the leading causes of workplace injuries - millions in the US suffer. Part of that involves making sure your computer is situated correctly, that the lighting does not negatively affect your vision, that your chair is situated to reduce the chance of back pain, and much more.

The American Society of Safety Engineers is the oldest and largest professional safety society. We were formed in 1911, soon after the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire that took the lives of more than 145 women trapped inside the burning factory. Our group works to make sure that the millions of people who go to work, such as Garrison, return home safely. I applaud the publicists union for its focus on safety.

Diane Hurns

PR manager

American Society of Safety Engineers

Des Plaines, IL

Corrections

The date of the 2006 PRWeek Awards dinner was incorrectly reported in an August 22 front-page story. The correct date of the dinner is March 2, 2006.

In an August 29 news story, we mistakenly reported that former Fleishman-Hillard execs Doug Dowie and John Stodder were accused of padding bills for the LA Department of Water and Power by $4.2 million. The two are accused of padding bills by $300,000; $4.2 million is what the LA City Controller charged the firm of overbilling.

In the same issue's Inside The Mix column, research company FIND/SVP was misidentified as IND/SVP. We regret the errors.

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