The PR Opinions Review of 2003 (Part One)

A very subjective review of the year…


 PR Week published the aggregated wisdom of a wide number of practitioners on what they believed were the key challenges for 2003, these included: 

  • Better understanding clients’ pain
  • Ethics and accountability
  • Getting clients to pay for value
  • Diversity
  • Shrinking budgets
  • Managing public scrutiny
  • Working with alternative media
  • Demonstrating PR’s deliverables
  • Demonstrating value
  • ‘Relevant’ media relations
  • Strategic counsel
  • Credibility and ethics

Looks like most of those can carry over to 2004!

 The Internet’s burn out reached it’s lowest ebb in January with a tongue-in-cheek auction on EBay for ZDNET�s entire Editorial Staff

 The economic climate was also reflected in the industry analyst business with Forrester acquiring Giga.

 2003 was a very bad year for Microsoft PowerPoint.  There was a lot of negative comment on the preponderance of presenters reading their slides. Read more here, here and of course the Gettysberg Address in PowerPoint!

 Starting in January and continuing throughout the year was the discussion on how the Internet is affecting journalism (and indirectly Press Relations).  There were a wide range of topics from how Blogs won�t change journalism to broader opinions on how the interactive nature of the Internet does offer some benefits.



 In the first big PR mishap of 2003, Shepardson Stern + Kaminsky, a New York-based PR firm, e-mailed confidential client documents to journalists thanks to a virus (and ineffective anti-virus protection)

 Google’s profile reached new highs in 2003, the Boston Globe had a fantastic feature on the company and how its Search Engine is changing online habits. Meanwhile Google snapped up Blogger and was rated the Internet’s #1 brand.

 The discussion on how PR intersects with blogging also kicked off.

 On the agency front, Burson Marsteller made the bold move into telemarketing, while other agencies offered free PR.

 The Blogging versus Journalism discussion continued, PR Opinions comes down on the side of reason…



 In March, the venerable Silicon Valley bible, Red Herring finally closed its doors.

 The role of Public Relations in helping organizations with their Search Engine marketing began to gather some momentum.

 Dr. Pepper’s farcial Raging Cow blog stunt hit the headlines, while Puma fought a losing battle with a whole range of bloggers about some “fake” Puma adverts that were winging their way from blog to blog.

 And there was some good PR news in March!  PR Websites are actually improving!

 Finally, we had our first sighting of how RSS might help PR.

“The last part is having passion about what you do. If you’re an entrepreneur, they are passionate because it’s their lives. I went into another meeting where I spoke, and this woman raised her hand and said, “We’re salespeople. Can’t we fake passion?” My response was, “No. You can fake interest, but you can’t fake passion.” Richard Laermer, co-author of Full Frontal PR in an interview with EMarketer.



 There was only one headline event in April.  The War in Iraq.  PR was never far from the headlines. And of course the War gave us the PR “Character” of the Year…. Comical Ali.

 Meanwhile Nokia showed Puma the correct means of dealing with viral online issues.

 My biggest rant of the year occurred in April, when John Karastamatis stepped over the line in lampooning our poor misunderstood profession.

 It was also the month of the funniest PR satire of 2003 with Atlantic Monthly’s short story on the PR campaign for an American Pope.  And the New York Post offered an Eight Step Program for cleaning up PR’s image.

 On the book front, the enjoyable “The Devil Wears Prada” offered an alleged inside look at the Fashion publishing business.

 CNN unveiled an innovative new service: Obituaries for the living

 Finally, Corporate Blogs were being hailed as a new channel for communicating with diverse audiences.

“A rumor without a leg to stand on will get around some other way.” John Tudor.



 May was the month that Jayson Blair became a household name and the New York Times showed that it’s not bad at its own PR.

 In Australia, Pan Pharmaceuticals showed the danger of ignoring the lessons of the past by making a bad crisis a lot worse…

 Microsoft had it’s own problems with the iLoo while SCO kicked off the greatest PR own goal of the year.

 There were more thoughts on how PR can work with Search Engine marketing and news that a large corporation thinks the best way to address negative media comment is to exclude those media from future announcements…. ahem

 The Blogging and Journalism discussion continued… and the world’s first blogumentary appeared.

 A survey of 700 Business-to-Business marketers found that E-mail marketing to an in-house list (45%), Public Relations (36%) and Postal mail to an in-house list (28%) were the most successful marketing tactics.

 This success didn’t reflect on the salaries of PR practitioners needless to say.  While the salaries of finance and corporate PR practitioners were up, the technology and public affairs practitioners took a 10% percent dive.

 PowerPoint continued to be pasted..’scuse the pun..

“Arthur hoped and prayed that there wasn’t an afterlife. Then he realised there was a contradiction there and merely hoped that there wasn’t an afterlife.” Douglas Adams, whose anniversary occured during May.