AP says Spanish-language Excelsior newspaper part of expected Chapter 11 bankruptcy by parent company Freedom Communications, Inc.

Report: OC Register owner to file for bankruptcy

NEW YORK, NY — Freedom Communications Inc., the owner of the Orange County Register, is expected to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week, according to a published report.

The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site Sunday that the privately held company has reached agreements with its lenders to restructure its debts. The report cited unnamed people familiar with the situation.  To read the full story by the Associated Press click here.

Freedom Communications, is the owner of top Spanish-language weekly, Excelsior.  The company has been owned by the Hoiles family for more than 70 years.

PRWeek announces call for entries for best Multicultural PR and 32 other top awards

New York, NY – PRWeek is now seeking entries for the best multicultural PR campaign of the year along with 32 other top awards as part of its annual PRWeek Awards.  The PRWeek Awards are one of the highest accolades in the public relations industry.  They are given each year to the best corporate, nonprofit, agency, and education teams, and the work that they produce. 

The PRWeek Awards 2010 presentation will take place in March 2010, at Tavern on the Green in New York.  To download the entry kit click here.

Lessons from the Microsoft Photoshop fiasco; Agencies, marketers need to think globally, even for regional work

NEW YORK, NY – A lot of global marketing is about translating a single idea for dozens of markets. But, let’s face it, local executions don’t stay local for long, especially if they offer bloggers a chance to embarrass a multinational brand.
 
Microsoft learned this last week, when blogs and mainstream media alike seized upon an image from Microsoft’s Polish business website featuring a clumsy Photoshop job that turned a black man white.  To read the full story from Advertising Age click here.

Q&A with Hispanic PR Pro Deborah Charnes Vallejo of Bromley Communications

Deborah Charnes Vallejo is Vice President/Director of Public Relations for Bromley Communications.

Tell us about your educational background?
As a college freshman, I dreamed of being an international reporter. My school’s journalism program didn’t allow me to take any journalism courses until my third year.  In the meantime, within Liberal Arts & Sciences, I began to drift toward social anthropology and linguistics – both areas that were previously unknown to me.  Debby Charnes Vallejo Photo

Through that discipline, I was able to study in Mexico, South America and the Caribbean, and chart my own path.  I did field work on the island of Trinidad analyzing mass communications.  I conducted research on Spanish language variation in Mexico, Colombia and Chicago.  I was a DJ and public affairs director at my college radio station.  As a result of the heavy coursework and independent study projects, I graduated in three years.  After graduation, I stayed in Mexico City teaching English and writing freelance for ComputerWorld de Mexico. Teaching English taught me more about English grammar than all the English classes I was forced to take as a student, combined.

In hindsight, all those experiences were crucial to shaping my background and preparing me for a life in international and multicultural communications.

What advice would you have for young people exploring Hispanic or multicultural PR careers?

Sometimes, Hispanic or African-Americans are assigned to work on multicultural accounts simply because of their color or surname.  Just as practitioners develop expertise in healthcare PR, investor relations or public affairs, one becomes a Hispanic or multicultural PR professional out of experience plus passion. It is a niche. For some, a very narrow niche, for others, an opportunity to delve deep into a culture as diverse and broad as our continent.  It must be a choice rather than an assignment.

Much of my career has been focused on national Hispanic communications. I have lived in three major US Hispanic ADIs and have traveled the country (and Latin America) extensively. My cultural anthropology background has taught me to open my eyes everywhere to understand the nuances that are different from one barrio to the next, that ultimately help a PR professional to design a campaign that is relevant and hard hitting.

Last year, I spent several weeks in a small impoverished New Mexico town conducting door to door canvassing and placing telephone calls on behalf of one of the political campaigns.  I walked one end of the town to the other, several times over, and knocked on doors that were opened by drug dealers, ex-convicts, the unemployed, small business owners, senior citizens, the god-fearing and multi-generational families living in shacks or trailers.  Talking to the people inside their homes, I saw many differences from their big city counterparts.  Yet there are always commonalities.

Young people entering Hispanic PR need to understand that the Hispanic world is vast and diverse. I encourage my staff to read the Spanish-language newspapers from all over the country, and not to ignore the farandula. We also encourage Bromley employees to hang out in the barrio and talk to people there as much as possible, whether in their hometown or while traveling.  Every day can be focus group day.

Tell us something about you that would surprise even many of your closest friends?
Sometimes I think I’ll retire and work at the grocery store check out line.

What is one of the best lessons you learned from your parents?
My mother always said, “If you are going to do it, do it right.”  She was a freelance writer, so I grew up seeing loads of rejection letters, and few published pieces. I also saw unending series of edits. While I felt her frustration, her joy in each individual placement made the effort worthwhile.  Additionally, my siblings and I all became solid writers as a result of her “redlining” our written assignments with a real red pencil.  That personal coaching was far more effective than anything I learned in a classroom.

Describe the most effective PR campaign you’ve ever worked on and what made it special?
I’ve been in this business far too long to be able to select one campaign. For the most part, I judge effectiveness by solid data to prove success was due to PR.  Unfortunately, many of our clients do not engage in sufficient pre- and post-research to isolate and confirm the effect of PR.  There are two campaigns that come to mind that had solid proof of success.  Each won numerous PR Awards.

The first was an awareness campaign conducted for Boy Scouts of America among Hispanic boys and their parents in Texas. A Galloway Research survey indicated a 104 percent increase in unaided awareness three months into the program and a 50 percent increase in ‘top of mind’ awareness.

The other was a general market assignment to rally support of a bond passage. Basically, we were asking residents to vote for $214 million in general obligation bonds to cover 113 projects.   Since no one likes to increase taxes, and it’s impossible to understand 113 projects, we created an aggressive grassroots campaign to educate voters on key aspects of the bills. Ultimately, all propositions were passed.

Beyond the quantitative results, one of my most memorable campaigns is also one of my first. It was a nationwide Hispanic Heritage children’s art contest for McDonald’s.  I still vividly recall the chubby girl from Corpus Christi and the shy third grader from Arizona who were sent to Washington, D.C. with their teachers and their families during Hispanic Heritage Week. We unveiled their art along with that of the semi-finalists at a children’s museum and then presented President Ronald Reagan with the winners’ art at a Rose Garden Reception.

What do you believe helps differentiate your agency and how big is your PR team?
Our agency is owned and run by a former self-acknowledged “research geek.”  We don’t just create big splashes or wild creative.  Everything must be grounded in strong insights. We strive to understand the Hispanic market better than anyone else. It is our livelihood and we need to live it every second of the day, so that we can predict and prompt our consumers’ responses.

I have been with Bromley Communications since 1998 and we have always maintained a very lean PR team.  Beyond the dedicated PR staff, we work closely with Bromley account planners, creatives, production and account management teams.  Additionally, we have select freelancers with longstanding ties to the agency that we rely on to ensure top quality service and results during those frequent peaks.

Who are some of your agency’s top Hispanic/multicultural PR clients and what is the most exciting campaign your team is presently working on?
Earlier this year we completed exciting campaigns for both Coors Light and Western Union.  The Coors Light and Western Union bulls eye targets vary dramatically and those are good examples of why we must understand all facets of our consumer.

What’s in the works at Bromley for continued growth and expansion?
As is the case with many agencies, we are expanding more into the social media arena.  While many aspects of digital fit within PR, at our agency we are trying to ensure that interactive becomes a part of all disciplines.

What is the biggest challenge your agency has encountered in the midst of the prolonged recession?

It’s a changing world: from the media to the corporate side to the agencies.   Budgets everywhere are being slashed and agencies are asked to deliver more for the buck.

What is your agency’s annual Hispanic PR marketing billings?
While we cannot disclose figures, our agency is almost entirely focused on the Hispanic market.

What is the most important business habit you have?
We are in a service industry and we must be available at any time to our clients, and respond quickly to any call or request.  I rely on a Blackberry, and when I go on vacation, I don’t disconnect.

What book have you recently read?
I am currently reading An Island Called Home by Ruth Behar.  Behar fled Cuba with her family at the age of four, yet has returned many times to uncover what she cannot remember.  She is a professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan, but also an accomplished writer, filmmaker and a MacArthur “genius.”  I saw her introduce her documentary Adio Kerida about Jewish (Sephardic) Cuba many years ago at a Latino Film Fest and later provided pro bono support to a conference of MacArturos (the Latino MacArthurs).  Last month I attended one her book readings at a Macondo Foundation event.

Who do you believe are today’s innovative Latino leaders/influencers (in general)?
Any educator, school counselor or community leader that can help to motivate today’s youth to excel in any area that they choose.  I have come across many talented, successful Latinos that were not always the most likely to succeed.  Beyond test scores, oftentimes it is the personal attention or encouragement given to students that leads them to success. Yet these influencers are not recognized as they should be.

Going back to my McDonald’s art contest, I recall the teacher of the grand prize winner explaining how the little girl had “messed up” her drawing.  Rather than rip it up and start again, as she was thinking of doing, the teacher prodded her to fix the “mess.”  The result, she covered up the error with a three-dimensional cut-out that gave her artwork s very unique and special feel that likely earned her the space at the White House.

What is the biggest challenge you have faced?
I welcome challenges. I think it keeps us on our toes.  Traditionally, in Hispanic PR we are challenged with budgets that are a fraction of the general market expenditures, yet we have similar goals, objectives and strategies, and oftentimes need to have much more compelling results than that of general market.

If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
I’ve struggled with work/life balance, as I think have many in our industry.

What was your childhood ambition?
Although I was somewhat shy, I yearned to be a singer or actress.  Now, I just take them on media tours.

Tell us about three people that you admire and why?
Given what’s in today’s news, Ted Kennedy, JFK and Barack Obama.  The Kennedy brothers shaped our present day country, and Obama is on the path to ensure an even better future for our residents. All three are/were extremely positive thinkers for whom no challenge was too great.

What is your favorite quote?
Imagine.

What is the biggest Hispanic marketing cliche you would love to see go away?
Hispanic Heritage Month, Cinco de Mayo and 16 de Septiembre?

Tell us about your agency
Bromley Communications was founded in San Antonio in 1981 as a Hispanic full service marketing communications agency.  It has always used ground-breaking techniques to attract diverse Hispanic audiences. It was one of the first agencies to run a Spanish-language advertisement on an English-language television network, incorporate non-traditional media and was among the first to create culturally relevant Spanglish ads that capture the unique ‘voice” of Hispanic markets.
———————————————————————————————————
AGENCY NAME: Bromley Communications LLC
ADDRESS: 401 E. Houston, San Antonio, TX
AGENCY PRINCIPALS: Ernest Bromley
PR BILLINGS: NA
AGENCY FOUNDED: 1981
EMPLOYEES: 150
TOP 3 HISPANIC PR CLIENTS: Western Union, San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau, Coors Light
WEB SITE: www.bromleyville.com
———————————————————————————————————-

Clarification: PRSA condemns false and deceptive online postings

An August 28, 2009 posting titled “PRSA’s Fiske: We condemn fasle and deceptive online postings” was attributed to PRSA chair-elect Rosanna Fiske and PRSA president William Murray.  The statement should have been attributed to the entire organization.  To view the story click here: http://www.hispanicprblog.com/wp-admin/post.php?action=edit&post=1100.

This week’s top multicultural headline: Latino rookie QB Mark Sanchez will be NY Jets starter

It’s never easy for a diehard Miami Dolphins fan like myself to root for a New York Jets player but Mexican-American QB Mark Sanchez is the exception.  Here’s hoping that he wins all his games and has a great career in the NFL – EXCEPT when playing against my beloved Miami Dolphins!

To read more about this see the New York Jets web site story below:

Jets Agree: On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow

After Wednesday’s practice, the Jets had a chance to reflect on head coach Rex Ryan’s decision to name Mark Sanchez the starting quarterback.

The players made it clear that the gameplan will not change because of a rookie starter.

“Any situation we we’re going to be in this year depending on who the quarterback would be, it was going to be a young quarterback regardless,” said safety Kerry Rhodes. “So we’re taking the same approach. We know we have one of the best O-Lines in the game and we’re going to run the ball and make it easy for whoever is back there, so hopefully they can do a good job of that and the defense will play well and we’ll be fine.”

Sanchez was named quarterback a few days before the Jets’ third preseason game — when coaches typically give their starters the most playing time.

He will be facing another tough defense in the New York Giants on Saturday night after his first career NFL start at Baltimore. He experienced some up and downs on the Monday night stage, throwing an interception with his first throw and a near interception with his second.

No. 6 fought through some shaky early play to lead the team on a second-quarter touchdown drive, earning the respect of his fellow teammates and giving a glimpse of the type of leader they can expect this season.

“He’s always been relaxed in the huddle and he’s always has a calmness about him,” wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. “I know nothing’s going to rattle him and I was definitely encouraged by the way he bounced back the other night, leading us on a touchdown drive. That was a good sign right there.”

Here are some other Wednesday player reactions from One Jets Drive:

TE Dustin Keller: “It’s going to be huge for us facing some of the top defenses in the league so when we get into the regular season it’s going to be like we’ve seen everything, especially with the Ravens defense. He’s definitely going to live up to it. He’s going to be a great player and I see him progressing quickly.”

LB Bryan Thomas: “It was really his first time out there, and he was going against a good defense in the Ravens. It was a good challenge for him. This week you can see how he does against another good defense in the Giants so you can evaluate him then.”

C Nick Mangold: “He learned a lot from the game and it was good for us to see even after making the mistake. He was able to bounce back and not let that snowball into more mistakes. He was able to continue on and I think that’s a good thing to see out of a quarterback.

“We have a good offensive line up front and we think that we can do the job that’s necessary. We’ll bring him along, but at the same time he’s got to make some plays and we’re pretty confident that he can do that.”

CB Darrelle Revis: “He has impressed me a lot in the way he handles himself on and off of the field. Watching the game in Baltimore, they came at him with a lot of pressure. He threw the interception — you can’t blame him for that. He’s still learning. He bounced back and threw a touchdown pass and I think through the course of the game, if it was a regular-season game he would have progressed more and made more plays.”

WR Chansi Stuckey: “He and Kellen [Clemens] have been rotating in and out so we have some familiarity with him, 1-on-1’s and things like that. It won’t take long for us to get on the same page.”

RB Leon Washington: “It’s critical for every quarterback, it’s to his advantage for us to have the type of offensive line we have and the running game we have — it’s going to be to his advantage. He’s a young guy so we’ll have to help him out. Kellen has done a tremendous job of helping him along the way, so the running game will be good for him.”

Cotchery: ”We’re able to move forward now and gain some chemistry with one guy and just develop as an offense. I think the decision coming this early is definitely going to help the team. I didn’t know the decision was going to be today, but I knew it had to be coming up pretty soon because of the way the rest of the league approaches the third game.

T Damien Woody: “It’s not going to be all on his shoulders. The only way you win as a team is everybody has to play their part — everybody knows that. We’re going to play good defense, solid special teams and we’re going to run the football. He’s going to have to make plays here and there and that’s how we’re going to win football games. Everybody know that. It’s already been thrown out there. Now it’s just about fine-tuning and getting ready to go.

“That’s why you get paid the big bucks. He understands you’re here in New York, there is going to be a lot of expectations. But with his personality, it’s not like he’s never been in this situation before. He’s been in this situation where there has been expectations each year coming out of college. He understands that and he has a great personality, great work ethic, and he’s fired up and ready to go, and so am I.”

Jets Agree: On Your Mark, Get Set, Grow

Published: 08-27-09

080109_kyle_richardson_headshot_medium

By Kyle Richardson
Reporter

Article Permalink: http://www.newyorkjets.com/news/articles/show/3181-jets-agree-on-your-mark-get-set-grow

After Wednesday’s practice, the Jets had a chance to reflect on head coach Rex Ryan’s decision to name Mark Sanchez the starting quarterback.

The players made it clear that the gameplan will not change because of a rookie starter.

“Any situation we we’re going to be in this year depending on who the quarterback would be, it was going to be a young quarterback regardless,” said safety Kerry Rhodes. “So we’re taking the same approach. We know we have one of the best O-Lines in the game and we’re going to run the ball and make it easy for whoever is back there, so hopefully they can do a good job of that and the defense will play well and we’ll be fine.”

Sanchez was named quarterback a few days before the Jets’ third preseason game — when coaches typically give their starters the most playing time.

He will be facing another tough defense in the New York Giants on Saturday night after his first career NFL start at Baltimore. He experienced some up and downs on the Monday night stage, throwing an interception with his first throw and a near interception with his second.

No. 6 fought through some shaky early play to lead the team on a second-quarter touchdown drive, earning the respect of his fellow teammates and giving a glimpse of the type of leader they can expect this season.

“He’s always been relaxed in the huddle and he’s always has a calmness about him,” wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery said. “I know nothing’s going to rattle him and I was definitely encouraged by the way he bounced back the other night, leading us on a touchdown drive. That was a good sign right there.”

Here are some other Wednesday player reactions from One Jets Drive:

TE Dustin Keller: “It’s going to be huge for us facing some of the top defenses in the league so when we get into the regular season it’s going to be like we’ve seen everything, especially with the Ravens defense. He’s definitely going to live up to it. He’s going to be a great player and I see him progressing quickly.”

LB Bryan Thomas: “It was really his first time out there, and he was going against a good defense in the Ravens. It was a good challenge for him. This week you can see how he does against another good defense in the Giants so you can evaluate him then.”

C Nick Mangold: “He learned a lot from the game and it was good for us to see even after making the mistake. He was able to bounce back and not let that snowball into more mistakes. He was able to continue on and I think that’s a good thing to see out of a quarterback.

“We have a good offensive line up front and we think that we can do the job that’s necessary. We’ll bring him along, but at the same time he’s got to make some plays and we’re pretty confident that he can do that.”

CB Darrelle Revis: “He has impressed me a lot in the way he handles himself on and off of the field. Watching the game in Baltimore, they came at him with a lot of pressure. He threw the interception — you can’t blame him for that. He’s still learning. He bounced back and threw a touchdown pass and I think through the course of the game, if it was a regular-season game he would have progressed more and made more plays.”

WR Chansi Stuckey: “He and Kellen [Clemens] have been rotating in and out so we have some familiarity with him, 1-on-1’s and things like that. It won’t take long for us to get on the same page.”

RB Leon Washington: “It’s critical for every quarterback, it’s to his advantage for us to have the type of offensive line we have and the running game we have — it’s going to be to his advantage. He’s a young guy so we’ll have to help him out. Kellen has done a tremendous job of helping him along the way, so the running game will be good for him.”

Cotchery: ”We’re able to move forward now and gain some chemistry with one guy and just develop as an offense. I think the decision coming this early is definitely going to help the team. I didn’t know the decision was going to be today, but I knew it had to be coming up pretty soon because of the way the rest of the league approaches the third game.

T Damien Woody: “It’s not going to be all on his shoulders. The only way you win as a team is everybody has to play their part — everybody knows that. We’re going to play good defense, solid special teams and we’re going to run the football. He’s going to have to make plays here and there and that’s how we’re going to win football games. Everybody know that. It’s already been thrown out there. Now it’s just about fine-tuning and getting ready to go.

“That’s why you get paid the big bucks. He understands you’re here in New York, there is going to be a lot of expectations. But with his personality, it’s not like he’s never been in this situation before. He’s been in this situation where there has been expectations each year coming out of college. He understands that and he has a great personality, great work ethic, and he’s fired up and ready to go, and so am I.”

Defiant Glenn Beck Fires Back at Boycott Organizers

A defiant Glenn Beck fired back this week at a group that organized an ad boycott to his show on Fox News Channel for a racially charged comment a month ago, noting that the co-founder of the group is a White House environmental advisor and a self-described “rowdy black nationalist.”

Beck on Monday did not mention the boycott itself, which was organized by Color of Change in response to his calling President Obama a racist — prompting dozens of companies to pull their ads from his show — but instead trained his sites on Van Jones, who co-founded the group.  To read the full HispanicBusiness.com story and view a video of Beck fuming click here.

National Hispanic Corporate Council seeks new president as Carlos Soto announces retirement

Washington, DC – The National Hispanic Corporate Council announced today that their longtime popular President and CEO Carlos Soto will retire at the end of this year.  Below is the letter the NHCC issued to its members today:

To All NHCC Members,

It is with mixed emotions that I share the news that Carlos Soto, NHCC President and CEO, has decided to retire at the end of this year.  Carlos has a long history with the organization.  He served as a corporate representative for Coors, he also served on the Board of Directors for numerous years and for the past nine years served as President/CEO of the organization.

Carlos has made numerous contributions to the advancement of this organization.  His leadership, dedication and passion for NHCC has been recognized and admired by the membership, peers and external partners.

A Transition Committee comprised of members of the Board of Directors has been formed. They will work together with the Executive Committee, Carlos and NHCC staff to effect a smooth transition.

Please help me in wishing Carlos “the very best” as he enters this new chapter in his life.

Yolanda Medina Casey
NHCC Chair

Hispanic PR Technique: Goya teams up with Philadelphia Phillies for Latino Family Celebration & Food Drive on September 2

PHILADELPHIA, PA — Goya Foods, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States, will once again join the Phillies in hosting the Goya Latino Family Celebration & Food Drive on Wednesday, September 2, at Citizens Bank Park. The event pays tribute to Hispanic Heritage Month and takes place before and during the 7:05 p.m. Phillies-Braves game. This is the 8th year the Phillies will host the celebration. Goya logo

CELEBRATION HIGHLIGHTS:

–  General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. and Goya Foods President Robert Unanue will present the Phillies Goya Family Service Award to Johnny, Milagros Alameda, Jomil and Edurne Irizarry for their tireless contributions to the Latino community.  Johnny serves on the City’s
Philadelphia School Reform Commission and is Director for the Center for Hispanic Excellence: La Casa Latina at the University of Pennsylvania; also served as Executive Director/CEO of The Lighthouse, a 115-year-old multi-service community center in North Philadelphia. . . Milagros is a court interpreter for the City of Philadelphia, writer and educator. . . their son Jomil is an artist who has painted murals for the Mural Arts Program, Taller Puertorriqueno and The Lighthouse.. . and daughter Edurne works for Youth United For Change and is active on educational issues and youth leadership development. Phillies Logo
–  A food collection to benefit Philabundance. Fans are asked to donate Goya food products to help needy families in the Latino community.
Goya Foods has once again pledged to donate a minimum of 5,000 pounds of food to match the collected food products. To date, more than
15,000 pounds of food have been collected at past Goya Latino Family Celebrations.
–  Musical performances by the Los Brothers Band, who recently finished a national tour. . .recording artist Jose Gomilas, who will sing the
National Anthem. . .and local artists Jimmy Jorge & the Latin Express and the Foto Rodriguez y Su Orquestra.
–  Dancing by the award-winning Goya’s K Company Dancers and the Fuego Dance Company, which won “Entertainer of the Year” at the 2008
Hispanic Choice Awards.
–  Other local performers include S.T.E.P. & Caliente Dancers, the Ritmo & Sabor Dance Company, Aguanile Dance Company, and La Familia Rojas Folkloric Company.
–  Tribute of 21 flags of Latino countries.
–  Food with Latin flavor will be available at concession stands, including Goya food products.

Vincennes, Indiana radio station wins grant for Spanish programming

VINCENNES, Ind. — Vincennes University’s broadcasting department has won $20,000 from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting to reach out Southwestern Indiana’s Hispanic community with more bilingual news and public events programming.

The grant will pay for portable equipment to record meetings and events in the Hispanic community in and around Vincennes, extending to Jasper and Washington, Ind.  To read the full story.

Kleenex PR contest honors Hispanic Heritage with user-generated box art

Rounding out a search for Hispanic artists that launched in December 2008, Kimberly-Clark’s Kleenex brand has announced the winners in its “Con Kleenex, Expresa tu Hispanidad” package design contest.

The contest, which translates as ‘Express Your Hispanic Pride with Kleenex”, was aimed at finding creative talents who could translate elements of Hispanic heritage onto three upright Kleenex packages that will reach store shelves in quantity next month to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.)  To read the full story from Promo magazine click here.

PRSA condemns growing use of false and deceptive online content postings

The Public Relations Society of America issued the following statement:

Over the last few months, there have been several news accounts of promotional tactics that signal a common thread of malpractice under the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) Code of Ethics and PRSA Professional Standards Advisories (PSA). While each tactic varies in method and medium, PRSA states categorically that misrepresenting the nature of editorial content or intentionally failing to clearly reveal the source of message contents is unethical. 

Recent reports have included:

  • A public relations firm allegedly engaging its interns to write wholesale positive product reviews for online message boards.
  • A lobbying firm sending letters on other organizations’ letterhead.
  • Bloggers posting positive reviews of products and services while receiving products for free, as well as being paid by the sponsor for such positive reviews. (Proposed new Federal Trade Commission rules deem this practice to be false advertising.)
  • A marketing firm creating a program to match clients with tweeters for positive mentions.
  • Special interests setting up and/or funding organizations whose only constituent is the organizer or funder, and that take active positions purporting to represent larger constituencies in the current national health care reform debate.

While they vary in method and execution, each scenario shares a common thread of potential malpractice because they fail to conform to fundamental obligations of the professional communicator to protect and advance the free flow of accurate and truthful information and foster informed decision making in a democratic society. 

 

Deceptive Online Practices
Under the PRSA Code of Ethics, the source of editorial material must be clearly identified. Any attempts to mislead or deceive an uninformed audience are considered malpractice. The PRSA code calls for truth and transparency and full disclosure of the causes and interests represented. The goal should be responsible advocacy on behalf of clients, sustaining credibility with all audiences, and strengthening the public’s trust in the information they receive and the profession that provides that information. Deceptive practices produce unethical advocacy. The code also specifically targets deceptive online practices by individuals or organizations using blogs, viral marketing and anonymous Internet posting in Professional Standards Advisory PS-8.

Front Groups
One frequently used vehicle that fosters misrepresentation and unethical advocacy is a third-party organization, known as a “front group,” established specifically to deceive or mislead an audience about the position presented and its source. In Professional Standards Advisory PS-7, the PRSA Code of Ethics spells out the unethical nature of engaging in or assisting such groups’ deceptive descriptions of goals, causes, tactics, sponsors, intentions or participants. The ethical communicator is obligated to reveal all information needed for informed decision making, thereby maintaining the public trust. Withholding or deceptively concealing sources or sponsors of information or their intentions or motivations fails to satisfy the principles of truth in advancing the interest of clients and of serving the public interest as responsible advocates.

Pay for Play
Providing payment to generate or influence editorial coverage, regardless of medium, is unethical and constitutes malpractice under the PRSA code because such exchanges of value are hidden from the reader, viewer or listener. The PRSA code clearly champions the values of honesty, fairness, transparency and objective counsel to clients. “Pay-for-Play” also runs counter to the code’s warning to avoid any conflict of interest that impedes the trust of clients, employers or the public. Under Professional Standards Advisory PS-9, professionals are told to disclose any exchange of value so the reader, viewer or listener has the opportunity to make up their own minds about the value, bias, accuracy and usefulness of information provided by others.