EDITORIAL: Recognizing the pros in the wings

Carol Cone has created a reputation that sticks: she is the undisputed queen of cause-related marketing. And even though cause-related clients account for a mere one-third of her business, she’s not complaining. In business, it’s better to be remembered for something than nothing at all.

Carol Cone has created a reputation that sticks: she is the undisputed queen of cause-related marketing. And even though cause-related clients account for a mere one-third of her business, she’s not complaining. In business, it’s better to be remembered for something than nothing at all.

Carol Cone has created a reputation that sticks: she is the

undisputed queen of cause-related marketing. And even though

cause-related clients account for a mere one-third of her business,

she’s not complaining. In business, it’s better to be remembered for

something than nothing at all.



Even so, in her profile (see p18) Cone raises a good question about fame

and fortune when she notes the lack of PR icons in the business world as

a whole. ’In advertising, it’s ’David Ogilvy, he created the Hathaway

man.’ Why don’t they talk about people in PR like that?’



Why not, indeed? First of all, it’s in the nature of PR practitioners to

hide in the wings. Did you know, for example, that there has never once,

during his 25 years in this business, been a story about IBM VP of

communications David Kalis?



Part of the reason is that PR professionals have always believed that

the message should be more important than the messenger. We might argue

that they don’t have to live in mutual conflict.



What cannot be disputed is the fact that PR often deals with issues that

are more controversial than Hathaway shirts. PR is often about making

sure that Hathaway shirt doesn’t get washed in public.



Harold Burson would probably not want to be remembered as ’the man who

saved Philip Morris’ skin,’ even though his crisis counsel has been

highly valued. Perhaps he might want to be remembered as the man who

handled the most famous public relations case of all time, the Tylenol

crisis.



But that’s an honor that seems to which quite a few PR professionals can

lay claim.



And that’s the other thing about PR: it’s a team business. In

advertising, one line - one brilliant, captivating catchphrase - can

create success.



PR is more messy than that. It deals with details and unpredictable

people: journalists, employees, citizens, customers.



Still, that’s no reason not to try to raise the profile of the

profession.



It’s not all secrets and dirty linen. Carol, we salute you. And David,

we want to make a hero out of you as well. You deserve it.



Nortel defies market with PR As seen above, PR has a positive and very

visible power to influence many areas of business. An unusual and

exciting example is from the sphere of investor relations, documented in

this week’s Campaign section (see p40). The saga of Nortel and its

battle to defend its share price is a classic example of the real,

tangible value of PR.



When locked-at-the-hip competitor Lucent suffered a slump in profits and

a subsequent share price stumble, it would have been all too easy for

Nortel to become the innocent victim of ’market sentiment.’ Indeed, the

Nortel share price had started to nosedive on the news. But thanks to an

aggressive and speedy reaction, Nortel was not only able to recover the

loss; its share value actually increased. There’s a great lesson to be

learned from this exercise - not only by other IR pros, but by the

business community as a whole.



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