I think by now that the whole Ketchum episode has been suitably covered here and elsewhere. I’ve no interest in going back over the various machinations of the affair, if you’re interested, a quick search in Google will provide all you need to read.
However, Andy Lark pointed to a very interesting op-ed from Alan Kelly (nee Applied Communications).
He makes the sensible point that the core issue here is not the medium or PR’s role in it but disclosure.
“What we have in the case of DoE-Ketchum-Williams is not the impropriety of influencing public discourse. What we have are three parties that failed to disclose their roles in their attempts to influence that public discourse ï¿½ grey propaganda, to be precise… Many professionals, academics and associations idealize PR as a management function for building trust and reputations. But trust and reputation exist in marketplaces and, as such, they must be defended and asserted in the context of competing forces. That mere fact requires PR professionals to operate as advocates, not simply ministers of goodwill and good ethics. This is not to release our fated trio from blame. Fairness in the process of advocacy is paramount. But hedging on disclosure is what has taken us out of bounds, not ï¿½ dare I write it ï¿½ disseminating propaganda.”
It’s worth a read…