Spinsanity's mission is to "use rigorous, non-partisan analysis to expose the use and intent of the simulated reason and public relations techniques that dominate political discourse, and to document how they are disseminated through the media.
The diet drug craze of the mid-1990s was fueled by cover-ups, misinformation and a multi-million-dollar PR machine, according to Dispensing with the Truth, a new book by Mediaweek's Washington bureau chief, Alicia Mundy. Burson-Marsteller, Edelman Medical Communications, Ogilvy Adams & Reinhart and Ketchum were among firms identified as part of a nearly $100 million public relations spin campaign "that would put presidential consultants to shame," writes Mundy.
The top 50 PR firms worldwide more than tripled their revenue from 1994 to 2000, according to the Council for Public Relations Firms. 2000 saw a 30 percent jump from the previous year, breaking the 3.8 billion dollar mark. Money makes the world go 'round--with a little spin from the burgeoning PR industry.
Back in the heady days of the dot-com bubble, writes Martin Kady II, "enthusiastic folks in the public relations world could really work up a lather about their tech clients. In promoting the new new thing, these publicity machines would exercise all manner of hyperbole -- and the public and business press would fall for it hook, line and sinker. " Nowadays, most of the PR pitches he receives attempt to put a brave face on disaster or invite him to write about profitable companies that are exceptions to the rule.
This article includes correspondence between editor Michael Manville and the PR firm of BSMG Worldwide, which tried to get Manville to publish "one or more bylined articles written by experts in the field" of biotechnology. After initial denials, the BSMG representative eventually admitted that its client was actually the industry-funded Council for Biotechnology Information.
Amway representatives spread rumors that Procter and Gamble's "man-in-the-moon" logo is a Satanic symbol. That's according to a new P&G lawsuit against the Michigan-based household goods distributor. This is just the latest tiff between the two giant corporations; as far back as the 1980's, Amway distributors were publicizing a link between the Devil and their corporate rival, leading Procter and Gamble to drop the logo.
Greenpeace accused the European Union Council of greenwashing for attempting to classify an established health hazard as a source of renewable energy. The EU is advocating incineration of biodegradable waste, despite clear evidence that it produces virtually no useful energy. In addition a new Greenpeace report points to independent scientific research which identifies links between incineration and a variety of human health impacts.
Porter Novelli will be handling a more than $1 million account for the American Cancer Society, whose recently-hired VP-corporate communications is Greg Donaldson. What's interesting (and thoroughly predictable) is that Donaldson came to ACS from Humana. ACS is gearing up to be a "player" in the DC public policy debate on healthcare.
Politicians from Ronald Reagan to Bill Clinton George W. Bush are increasingly using "everyday citizens" as props to create a working-class appearance for policies that actually benefit the wealthy. "But unless we stop behaving as props and start behaving as citizens, we will be passive spectators at the increasingly contrived sport of politics in America," writes Robert Kuttner.
Want to send a message to the media and the public? Don't worry about the content--just make sure your spokesperson appears likable and believable. That's the message from media trainer Dick Kulp of Virgil Scudder and Associates. If the media "...see the spokesperson as credible and sincere, you've made the right impression." Just learn to fake sincerity, and you've won the PR battle.