PR folks are accustomed to being given short shrift by journalists
when pitching a story. So imagine the joy the Council of PR Firms must
have felt when it appeared the tables had been turned and PBS anchorman
Jim Lehrer was pitching himself to the PR industry.
But while Lehrer was omitted from the survey commissioned by the Council
about America's most trusted newscasters, it's not clear whether it was
Lehrer's vanity or just PR diligence on the part of PBS that led to the
response that followed.
As PRWeek reported, the survey showed that Americans trust Tom Brokaw
the most, followed by Peter Jennings and Dan Rather.
Realizing the oversight, the PBS PR machine immediately called to point
out the oversight to Sarah Drennan, the Council's vice president of
"They were just surprised that he wasn't on the list because apparently
he wins so many opinion polls," said Drennan. That fact was made
abundantly clear in a subsequent three-page letter sent to Drennan,
detailing Lehrer's myriad accomplishments.
The e-mail, from Sara Hope Franks, PR manager for MacNeil/Lehrer
Productions, pointed out: "In 2000, Jim Lehrer was declared 'most
respected anchor' in a reputation poll of Washington opinion leaders,
conducted by the bipartisan research firm SWR Worldwide." It also used
the "Flattery = results" tactic: "Your surveys are useful, important and
respected," the e-mail swooned.
Drennan explained that the poll was designed to survey attitudes
primarily about network anchors, with only CNN's Larry King representing
the cable set.