Monday, January 08, 2007

What Good Are The Facts? 

This is a dispiriting article. It says the better informed you are, the greater your ability to select facts and confirm your position in the face of contrary evidence. That is, the smarter you are, the more biased you are. We like to think in PR that we educate individuals and in so doing, we achieve greater understanding for clients. We do to a point, but what the author of this essay notes is that we don't change minds necessarily. Those who dislike a corporation or CEO will continue to do so in spite of evidence to the contrary.

The recent departure of a major CEO was attended by bile from the media that I haven't seen for awhile. Lost in the negative reporting was the huge turnaround the CEO had achieved during his years in office. The media reported that the company was doing reasonably well, but they weren't about to give credit to the CEO for achieving that performance. Out of dozens of articles, there were maybe one or two that were balanced assessments of what the CEO had done.

In politics, that is called piling on, and it is seen often during presidential campaigns. Think of Howard Dean. While Dean wasn't much of a candidate, his campaign did adopt new strategies of reaching voters through the internet that have become standard tools. A balanced assessment would offset the famous scream video of him with acknowledgement of advances he made. You won't find that in many media reports. (For the record, I wasn't and am not a supporter of Howard Dean.)

The article supports one observation about public relations: It is a difficult business. It is easier to run paid ads and hammer name awareness and opponents. That is a reason why marketers continue to favor paid media.


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