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on CSR and Ecomagination
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Ready for this? Is it real — or is it P.R.? E. Bruce Harrison
Adjunct Professor, Public Relations and Communications Graduate Program,
Georgetown University, and
CEO, EnviroComm International
March 13, 2012
"I've always seen that more as P.R. than reality."
Well, there you go again, business news reporter?
Here's a story that made the banner position at the top of the New York Times business page quoting an investor's view of Pepsico CEO Indra Nooyi's management appointments, as a smart move away from the company's "nutritional products" message.
The investor, Donald Yackman indicated that he never liked Ms. Nooyi's conviction that the company's future is tied to health and sustainability. He likened it to "the tail wagging the dog."
So, while efforts in the professional communications community to define and redefine "public relations" seem eternal (a notable, professional inside-crowd-sourcing effort now under way within PRSA), the dissing endures.
My personal pang is doubled. Every time we in the chemical industry years ago made any progress in explaining visionary efforts to go green, our wave of public-opinion analysts poured on the kind of cold water Mr. Yackman dumped on Pepsico's vision as unreal P.R. They called me greenwasher. Pang.
The other half of my pang is I was, and in my heart of heart remain, a journalist. So I know how hard it is to resist pushing a pungent quote into the lede. It worked! The copy desk bought it! A byline under the banner!
So, well, there they — antagonists and journalists — go again.
What are you gonna do? So, tell me, what do you, fellow P.R. — I mean, communications — pros? Curse the journalist? Say we bring it on ourselves? Say, one day, they will see? And, today, explain it to the boss or client? Proceed, Panglossian?
Bruce Harrison is an adjunct professor in the master's program at
Georgetown University, Washington, DC. He and Judith Muhlberger teach
courses in leadership communications and corporate crisis communications.
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