EDITORIAL: One of the few lessons learned from Lizzie's saga is how little the public understands PR

The saga of Lizzie Grubman is over.

The saga of Lizzie Grubman is over.

Some expected the case to be featured more prominently in our pages, but her troubles provided no insight into the industry that our readers would find useful. In recent weeks, stories have been appearing in such papers as The New York Times, speculating that Grubman's firm will struggle to survive because of her notoriety. Meanwhile, plenty of firms are struggling to survive client budget cuts and an unforgiving economy. The latter is obviously more interesting to us, and always will be. Still, there is a note of caution we can take away from l'affaire Grubman. Not a single news story that I read failed to identify Grubman as a "publicist" or, worse, a "PR princess." It's hard to remember a time when a defendant's job featured so prominently in coverage of a case, except for the ranks of celebrity, a la "actress Winona Ryder." Granted, some of Grubman's clients were from the celebrity ranks, and she was something of a minor public figure before the recent unpleasantness with the Mercedes SUV. I'm not convinced, though, that a lingering impression of the industry as a refuge for airheads, snobs, and lightweights did not inform some of those headlines. PR professionals can dismiss Grubman's brand of PR as only a small, insignificant part of the business. But the public probably won't know the difference.

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