Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

"Outing" PR People: Before the blogosphere, most public relations people labored in obscurity. Can you name any of the PR people responsible for the tobacco industry’s misleading campaigns of the 50s and 60s? You would never have seen something like this: a personal attack on Jody Clarke the public relations person responsible for the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s ad campaign designed to sow confusion over global climate change.

Media Orchard says: If Clarke has a brain and can open her ears, she knows—knows—that the CEI ads do not accurately represent [the Al Gore documentary] An Inconvenient Truth or the facts about global warming…. One day she’ll be ashamed of herself—or her children will.”

I don’t disagree with the sentiment. At this point, given the scientific certainty about climate change, denying global warming is on a par with denying the holocaust. If I have a quibble, it’s that the comparison MO draws to the tobacco industry is unfair to the tobacco folks: after all, their product primarily harmed those who chose to partake, what’s happening with the climate threatens us all, and those who are least to blame—people in developing countries—are likely to suffer the most, or at least the soonest.

But my first reaction was that I was a little uncomfortable with the personal nature of this approach. But on further reflection, I think business people should be more personally accountable for the decisions they make. Decisions have consequences. People should be aware of those consequences when they make their decisions.


  • At 6:49 PM, Blogger Scott Baradell said…

    I was a little uncomfortable as I was writing it, frankly. But after I'd written a previous post criticizing "pro-carbon-dioxide" flacks generally, I figured I should just have the stones to name names. It's what I would have done as a reporter.

  • At 7:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I agree it's a terrible and embarrassing ad - but the press release she wrote to announce the ad actually points to the writer as their General Counsel. Might have been more accurate, although less relevant, to pick on him...

    Here's a direct quote from the release: “Our ‘carbon footprints’ have become the environmentalist version of criminal fingerprints—a basis for fines, restraints, and punishment,” says Sam Kazman, CEI’s general counsel and the campaign’s script developer.

    Seeing as the "agency" is also less than a year old, and dedicated to such forms of communications, might have also made for good copy.

  • At 4:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's campaigns like this that give the entire PR industry a bad name. Jody should think about the impact her work has on the industry that has kept a roof over her head for many years. Shame on her and good on Media Orchard for raising the issue

  • At 5:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "At this point, given the scientific certainty about climate change, denying global warming is on a par with denying the holocaust."

    Equating a scientific controversy to the Holocaust...that's revolting. You might as well call the CEI people Nazis....or are you?


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