DIARY: Washington journalist spreads the rumours about US PR practice

A joke currently being fired by e-mail between PROs has come to my attention.

A joke currently being fired by e-mail between PROs has come to my


Washington Post man-about-town Bob Levey recently wrote about PROs in

his column. Apparently, they are as prolific in Washington as

politicians and lawyers.

When he posed the question: ’How many PROs does it take to change a

light bulb?’ he obviously drew on experience of life in the capital and

came up with over 20 responses.

But some helpful US PROs decided to add in a few of their own when they

realised Levey’s knowledge wasn’t absolutely comprehensive.

The final number of 27 apparently needed includes: one to hear on the

grapevine that a light bulb will soon be changed; one to confirm the

rumour; and one to decide whether a media event is needed to


Once this is decided, the publicising starts, with: one to research the

history of light bulbs; one to arrange a ’Light Bulbs Through the Years’

display at a prominent museum; one to prepare a statistical analysis of

the number of workers who could be affected by the change; and one to

develop a comprehensive Q&A to deflect any tough questions about light

bulb usage.

When the time for the event comes around, you need: one to test the bulb

before the media arrive; one to get a spare in case something happens to

the first bulb; one to hold the chair for the maintenance worker who is

doing the changing; one to write a news release on the maintenance

worker; and one to prepare a report for management explaining what the

events have accomplished.

And finally, of course, you need one to study how a similar event could

be handled more efficiently in the future.

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