There's no place in PR for ambulance chasers

Last week's cover story included a quote from Jenny Dervin, JetBlue's director of corporate communications, that made some readers fume.

Last week's cover story included a quote from Jenny Dervin, JetBlue's director of corporate communications, that made some readers fume.

To paraphrase, she took to task the agencies and consultants who called in the middle of the airline's recent crisis, offering critiques of its efforts on the one hand, and their services on the other.

Dervin later clarified her comments on our blog The Cycle (thecycle.prweekblogs.com). "I was addressing my comments to the crazy freelance and very few strange agency calls we received during the height of our media siege, who offered such helpful advice as, "You need to have your CEO be filmed at the airport handing out Hershey kisses." She added, "We needed our CEO [just] where he was - taking command of our airline's recovery program and developing a meaningful bill of rights."

Kudos to Dervin for her candor in both the initial story and the blog follow-up. In fact, we find it difficult to understand why Dervin's comments provoked such ire in the first place. She was clearly talking about a fringe element of the profession, and possibly a few wrong-headed but keen individuals eager to prove their mettle.

Let's be honest. Would anyone, in the middle of dealing with a severe reputation and operational meltdown, be pleased to pick up a phone to an armchair critic anxious to deconstruct your efforts and push their services? There are ways of doing things properly, and ways of doing things poorly. The more random and non-strategic the effort, the more badly it reflects on you and your organization.

In Dervin's own words, "Every industry has an ambulance-chaser segment, and in crisis situations, this is the group that smells blood and goes in for the kill." That is one association with the legal profession that the PR industry should avoid at all costs.

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