In a surprisingly clever use of social media, the Public Relations Society of America has employed YouTube to deliver its response to a scathing and ill-researched attack on the public relations profession in general and PRSA in particular.
On CBS Sunday Morning last week, commentator Andrew Cohen lambasted the society for its Code of Ethics and Professional Standards, arguing that having such a code was akin to a professional organization of burglars promising not to steal.
Jeff Julin, APR, PRSA’s 2008 Chair, responded in a letter to Cohen and then posted a video on YouTube:
Despite what many people may think because of the bad examples of publicity agents masquerading as communications consultants, the vast majority of public relations professionals do attempt to base relationships with the media on a two-way, transparent, and honest dialogue about issues as they represent their clients.
As a matter of personal policy, I incorporate the PRSA Code in every contract I write with clients, and provide them with a copy so they know what I will and will not do. And I really will walk away from business if a client asks me to be deceptive.
Anyway, it’s a big step forward for PRSA to be employing the social media tools in this way. In the late 1980s, I was part of a "Communications and Technology Committee" that was trying to get PRSA’s then executive director to embrace CompuServe’s PRSIG special interest group as a means of online communications. At the time, PRSA’s Job Center was a printed list that went out to members once a month. Headquarters would only fax the typed 3×5 cards to Ron Solberg in Chicago, who rekeyed them and posted the jobs on CompuServe.
How far we have come!