Sunday, March 13, 2005

Open Season 

Remaining secretive about work invites criticism such as this and this. It's time for PR agencies to come clean. A VNR is a good tool as long as it conveys news rather than hype.

Consider the following. There are two VNRs. One conveys health information from the Center for Disease Control and the other conveys a message about the benefits of a new law. Which is news and which isn't? Actually, either can be news or hype depending on how the creator of the VNR handles them.

Despite The New York Times , VNRs have been used for decades. It is only recently they have become a political issue because journalists were allowing themselves to shill for the Republican administration. The Times piece, by the way, is a must read for PR practitioners. The problems, the article shows, are complex and broad with local TV stations as much to blame as PR agencies.

VNRs are under a cloud, but they won't disappear. Practitioners need to be cautious in how they make them. Accuracy is rule one. It has always been rule 1. News is rule two. A VNR should provide timely information that otherwise might not be reported. Transparency is rule 3. Let people know who is behind the VNR.

The fake news phenomenon is far bigger than this current White House abuse. I cover this issue in my consumer guide for the switched-on citizen: We Know What You Want ISBN: 1932857052
My book also uncovers unethical practices in data mining, viral marketing, supermarkets, governments and white collar cults.

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