Numerous challenges present opportunities for PR to shine

Healthcare reform, in all its polarizing glory, has taken its place as the top agenda item in the country.

Healthcare reform, in all its polarizing glory, has taken its place as the top agenda item in the country. It has been a hot August, indeed, when normally the public affairs world takes a little break.

At press time, the debate had already taken a heated turn in town hall meetings nationwide, “death panels” had established itself in the vernacular, and speculation emerged that the public option would be dropped.

In spite of the heated rhetoric, many companies with a serious stake in the outcome of reform are endeavoring to take the high road, as Jaimy Lee reports in our main feature, “Delicate Procedure.” The wise path, for everyone from insurers to pharma to hospitals, is to be a part of the debate, not sitting outside it and barricading against the worst. This is a place where great PR counsel will shine.

This issue is full of examples of major challenges where PR will play a key role. Allison Gollust at NBC Universal is part of a team looking to recast the prime-time marketplace, while wrangling with corporate shuffles and contending with a growing posse of scrutinizing media watchers.

And as one of our roundtable participants explains, CPG companies are in “the fight of our lives with private label” goods, trying to tell cost-conscious consumers that their brands have greater value.

Guest columnist Richard Branson also discusses branding in the downturn. His enthusiastic embrace of social media in marketing is no surprise, and his consistent regard for the customer experience is a message that never gets old.

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