PR Has Own Diversity Issues
Friday, December 21, 2007
Survey Finds Industry "Has a Problem"
"'We all know the US is becoming much more of a melting pot,' says MaryLee Sachs, chairman of Hill & Knowlton USA. Why, then, she asks, does the PR industry remain a step behind?" Randi Schmelzer writes in the Dec. 17 issue of PR Week.
Her piece suggests that public relations, a longstanding refuge for journalists seeking a change and perhaps more money, is doing no better job on diversity than news outlets. Neither is another related field, advertising.
Schmelzer's piece continues, "To address that question, the fifth annual PRWeek/Hill & Knowlton Diversity Survey again polled PR and HR executives to examine the state of diversity in their own firms and corporate communications departments. And if responses to this year's survey are an accurate indication, Sachs is but one of many PR pros in search of an answer.
"The survey polled 139 agency practitioners and 111 communications pros from corporations or private companies. According to the results, 49.5% of PR pros working in corporate communications — and 60.4% of those on the agency side — feel the PR industry 'has a problem with lack of diversity' in the workforce. While that may seem disheartening, the majority of respondents say, too, that 'the commitment of senior management to taking action' is high.
"Still, Sachs says, 'We're not seeing a lot of change.'"
The survey showed that "58.3% of agency executives and 44.1% of those in corporate communications are still not satisfied with the level of ethnic diversity represented in their current staffs. That means the industry must make a renewed commitment to take action, from the top down.
". . . Whether it begins in high school or college, survey respondents agree that the industry could do a better job of early, sustained outreach to students of diverse backgrounds. To that end, bolstering relationships with colleges and universities with diverse student populations has become a priority for agencies and corporate communications departments alike.
". . . Incredibly, 40.3% of agency executives surveyed — and 59.5% of those on the corporate side — reported their businesses do not look to schools 'for recruitment of an ethnically diverse range of candidates.'
"Those that do, however, are stepping up outreach to universities with ethnically diverse populations. Corporate outreach to these schools, in fact, has seen a significant jump, from 33.6% in 2006 to 43.2% this year. Among respondents representing PR firms, 46% reported that they reach out to ethnically diverse colleges and associations, as opposed to 38.5% in 2006.
"According to the survey, some PR pros feel ongoing retention activities — competitive salaries, clearly defined career paths, in-house education programs, and strong mentoring programs, among others — can help to address and alleviate these difficulties.
"Ultimately, though, it may be clients, more than organized outreach and retention efforts, that stimulate the most movement.
"As clients and large companies become more diverse and global, the workforce on the agency side will be pushed to reflect those organizations, survey respondents report. And not just in terms of ethnic diversity, but from a cultural perspective, as well.
"'It's up to the leadership of an agency to say this is where we need to start focusing to remain competitive five years from now, even two years from now,' says David Kassnoff, manager of community affairs and former manager of communications for global diversity at Rochester, NY-based Eastman Kodak Company."
In another related field, "People of color are 18 percent of the work force and 11 percent of management at advertising agencies, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is far behind the national average (31.5 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively) and their representation in The 2007 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity . . ., where people of color are 35 percent of the work force and 24.4 percent of management," Jennifer Millman wrote Thursday in DiversityInc.
The American Society of Newspaper Editors reported in March that the percentage of minority journalists in U.S. daily newsrooms was 13.62 percent in the ASNE annual newsroom census.
Millman noted that Omnicom Group, the largest owner of ad agencies, announced on Monday it would pledge $1.25 million to diversity efforts over five years.
"It's a good start, but for the $11.4-billion company, it's just a drop in the bucket. Can a $190-billion industry that has been one of the worst of all time in terms of diversity 'get it' by investing 0.01 percent of its total revenue on the subject?" Millman wrote. "It's unlikely."
- Feedback at end of today's posting
ESPN Bulking Up as Part of Larger Strategy
Readers of this column are familiar with the parade of black journalists leaving newspapers for ESPN. At the New York Times, now down to one black sports journalist at a paper that just a few years ago had at least six, Times Sports Editor Tom Jolly told Journal-isms in September, "I should credit ESPN and Sports Illustrated for doing a great job with diversity." He said the two organizations, which have hired reporters from his department, "have an ability to pay a lot more than we do."
But as Adam Thompson reported Friday in the Wall Street Journal, the ESPN bulk-up "is more than a competitive shopping spree — it is a step toward reinventing the franchise."
"To remain the self-proclaimed 'Worldwide Leader in Sports,' the network is bulking up on content that is harder to duplicate. Rather than just introducing game video, the idea is to serve up breaking news and expert analysis, aggressively blanketing TV, the Internet, the magazine and even cellphones. In the new Internet-fed landscape, a two-minute video can be just as important. And the ESPN brand isn't enough — it needs individual go-to names like Mr. Reilly," a reference to columnist Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated, "or ESPN's existing Web star, 'Sports Guy' columnist Bill Simmons.
"'As more money moves towards the Internet, you're going to have to have talent,' says John Skipper, ESPN's executive vice president for content. 'The talent is going to have to come from traditional media.'"
". . . In hiring writers like Mr. Quinn, Mr. Bryant and Sports Illustrated football writer Jeffri Chadiha," referrring to writers T.J. Quinn of the New York Daily News and Howard Bryant, who came from the Washington Post, "along with editors such as Dwayne Bray of the Dallas Morning News and Larry Starks of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, ESPN is using its TV money to outbid its smaller ink counterparts. The company can promise salaries well into the six figures and tempt print reporters with TV airtime to help make them national household names.
"'It's like they're running all over the sports landscape trying to money-whip everybody into their barn,' says Terry McDonell, editor of Sports Illustrated."
In September, the Walter Kaitz Foundation honored ESPN with its annual Diversity Champion award.
Among the black former print journalists now at ESPN are Rob King, editor in chief of ESPN.com, who had been deputy managing editor/visuals and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer; Bryant; Starks; Chadiha; Jemele Hill, former Orlando Sentinel columnist; Stephen A. Smith and Claire Smith of the Philadelphia Inquirer; J.A. Adande, former Los Angeles Times columnist; and Michael Wilbon of "Pardon the Interruption," who remains a Washington Post columnist.
Zell Promises Sweeping Change at Tribune Co.
"Billionaire Sam Zell on Thursday closed the deal Wall Street thought he never could, stepping in as chairman and chief executive of a newly private Tribune Co. and promising sweeping change in how the beleaguered Chicago-based media conglomerate is managed," Michael Oneal reported Friday in the Chicago Tribune.
"'I'm here to tell you the transaction from hell is done,' Zell said at a press conference held Thursday afternoon at Chicago's iconic Tribune Tower. 'As far as I'm concerned, today is a brave new world.'
"Zell sought to drive home that point after he got word about noon that the money to fund his $8.2 billion bid to end Tribune's 24-year run as a public company had finally cleared the banks.
"An e-mail arrived promptly in employees' inboxes imploring them to 'shed all the things that tied us down in the past.' Zell himself swept through the Chicago Tribune newsroom in his trademark jeans and open-neck shirt to press the flesh with employees who will be his Tribune co-owners in a complex structure featuring an employee stock ownership plan."
The word "diversity" was not mentioned in any of the coverage of Zell's takeover, and Zell appointed a new board of directors that, unlike the previous one, appeared not to include any people of color.
But one Tribune executive said privately that Zell has noted the importance of editorial relevancy on at least a couple occasions, and that diversity is a core "Tribune value." Tribune Co. spokesman Gary Weitman did not respond to telephone calls from Journal-isms.
As reported in April, Zell's arrival could mark the end of a long period of cutbacks and uncertainty at Tribune Co. papers — which include the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Baltimore Sun, Newsday and Hartford (Conn.) Courant— that has taken its toll on diversity at the papers. Tribune also owns 23 television stations, among other properties.
Randy Michaels, a longtime Zell associate who is now Tribune's executive vice president and CEO of Interactive and Broadcasting, indicated the Baltimore Sun, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, Hartford Courant, Morning Call in Allentown, Pa., and Daily Press of Newport News, Va., will serve as a lab of sorts for Internet experiments, Phil Rosenthal reported on Friday in the Chicago Tribune.
"Shaking hands like a seasoned politician, Zell at least momentarily energized a Chicago Tribune newsroom worn down by dour industry projections and word of cutbacks throughout the media world. His visit was like a first date, when everything is possible and no one has been let down," Rosenthal wrote. "By the time Zell and his team are through, nothing may look much like their traditional businesses."
Doctors List Top Underreported Humanitarian Stories
"People struggling to survive violence, forced displacement, and disease in the Central African Republic (CAR), Somalia, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere often went
underreported in the news this year and much of the past decade, according to the 10th annual list of the 'Top Ten' Most Underreported Humanitarian Stories," released Thursday by the international medical humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières.
"The 2007 list also highlights the plight of people living through other forgotten crises, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Colombia, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, and Chechnya, where the displacement by war of millions continues. It also focuses on the ongoing toll of medical catastrophes like tuberculosis (TB) and childhood malnutrition.
"The complete text of the list is available at www.doctorswithoutborders.org/publications/reports/topten/
" 'Certainly, many members of the press go to great lengths to report on what is taking place in conflict zones around the world,' said Nicolas de Torrente, executive director of MSF-USA. 'But millions of people trapped in war, forced from their homes, and lacking the most basic medical care, do not receive attention commensurate with their plight.'
"MSF began producing the 'Top Ten' list in 1998 when a devastating famine in southern Sudan went largely unreported in the U.S. media. . . . Often, media attention is critical for generating and improving responses.
"According to Andrew Tyndall, publisher of the online media-tracking journal, 'The Tyndall Report,' the countries and contexts highlighted by MSF on this year's list accounted for just 18 minutes of coverage on the three major U.S. television networks' nightly newscasts from January through November 2007."
The top 10 are: "Displaced fleeing war in Somalia face humanitarian crisis"; "Political and economic turmoil sparks health-care crisis in Zimbabwe"; "Drug-resistant tuberculosis spreads as new drugs go untested"; "Expanded use of nutrient dense ready-to-use foods crucial for reducing childhood malnutrition"; "Civilians increasingly under fire in Sri Lankan conflict."
Also: "Conditions worsen in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo"; "Living precariously in Colombia's conflict zones"; "Humanitarian aid restricted in Myanmar" (also known as Burma); "Civilians caught between armed groups in Central African Republic"; and "As Chechen Conflict Ebbs, Critical Humanitarian Needs Still Remain."
Congress Strengthens Freedom of Information Act
The U.S. House of Representatives passed bipartisan reforms to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) sent over from the Senate, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said on Wednesday.
"This is the most significant victory for transparency in the federal government in more than a decade," Executive Director Lucy Dalglish said in a statement. "There is still much work to be done, but this is a major step toward a more open and accountable democracy."
"The Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act, or OPEN Government Act (S. 2488), emphasizes FOIA deadlines and creates penalties for federal agencies that fail to respond to records requests. The act also develops a tracking system for individual information requests, creates an ombudsman to mediate information disputes and makes it easier to recover attorney's fees when requesters are forced to file suit to get records," the committee said.
Barbara Cochran, president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association, one of 10 media groups that lobbied for passage, said, "this isn't just a victory for journalists; it's a victory for every single member of the American public. This legislation will eliminate some of the lengthy delays and persistent backlogs in the FOIA process that create obstacles and limit the public's ability to make informed choices in their communities."
- Richardson Responds to Sunshine Campaign Survey; Democrat Says He Will Roll Back 'Obsessive Secrecy' (Sunshine Week)
Candidates Differ on Terms Used for Immigrants
When Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, "complained recently about Republicans overheating the
immigration debate, his top piece of evidence was their use of 'outrageous phrases like "illegal aliens",' " Stephen Dinan reported Wednesday in the Washington Times.
"For the most part, Democrats prefer to call those here without authorization 'undocumented' — the preferred term of Hispanic and immigrant rights groups. Most Republicans are comfortable with the adjective 'illegal,' coupled either with 'alien' or 'immigrant,' and some Republican candidates will just call them 'illegals.'
"A middle-ground phrase — 'unauthorized immigrant'— is gaining in use among those who study the issue, though it hasn't broken into the political debate yet."
But Democratic candidates occasionally will go off-message: Sen. Barack Obama used "illegal alien" twice in the Democrats' CNN debate last month, and "both he and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton have used the phrase 'illegal immigrant,'" the story said. "And Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, has used the term 'illegals' in a debate.
"Among Republican hopefuls, Rep. Tom Tancredo and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney both have used 'illegal alien' during debates, and Mr. Romney, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani have used 'illegals.'
"As Mr. Giuliani's stance has stiffened, so has his terminology.
"Last year, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists issued a statement objecting to using 'alien' because 'it casts them as adverse, strange beings, inhuman outsiders who come to the U.S. with questionable motivations.'
"The Washington Times style is to use 'illegal alien' except when quoting directly, but other papers shy away from the term, and still others use terms interchangeably, including illegal immigrant."
Clinton, Obama Debate Who Gets Worse Coverage
Sen. Hillary Clinton's "senior advisers have grown convinced that the media deck is stacked against them, that their candidate is drawing far harsher scrutiny than Barack Obama. And at least some journalists agree," Howard Kurtz wrote Wednesday in the Washington Post.
"'She's just held to a different standard in every respect,' says Mark Halperin, Time's editor at large. 'The press rooted for Obama to go negative, and when he did he was applauded. When she does it, it's treated as this huge violation of propriety.' While Clinton's mistakes deserve full coverage, Halperin says, 'the press's flaws — wild swings, accentuating the negative — are magnified 50 times when it comes to her. It's not a level playing field.'
"Newsweek's Howard Fineman says Obama's coverage is the buzz of the presidential campaign. 'While they don't say so publicly because it's risky to complain, a lot of operatives from other campaigns say he's getting a free ride, that people aren't tough enough on Obama,' Fineman says. 'There may be something to that. He's the new guy, an interesting guy, a pathbreaker and trendsetter perhaps.'
"Obama spokesman Bill Burton says the accusation of softer treatment is untrue but 'the Clinton campaign whines about it so much, it becomes part of the chatter. No candidate in this race has undergone more investigations and examinations than Barack Obama has,' he says, citing lengthy pieces in the Chicago Tribune and New York Times. 'As Obama says, running against the Clintons is not exactly a cakewalk. Their research operation has ensured that if there's any information about Obama to be had, it's been distributed to the media.'
"The question, of course, is what journalists do with that information."
On CBS' Public Eye Web site, Brian Montopoli wrote on Monday, "On Friday, in an interview with the New York Times, Obama neatly summed up the prevailing press narrative about his campaign.
"'A month ago, I was an idiot,' he said, according to a story published Sunday. 'This month, I'm a genius.'
"The implication is that the chattering classes have reversed their opinion about Obama even though the candidate himself hasn't much changed. And while his statement may be something of an exaggeration, there's clearly some truth in it. Has Obama really become a better candidate after spending much of the campaign as a bumbler? Or does the press corps now see him that way simply because he has moved up in the polls?"
- Monroe Anderson, ebonyjet.com: Voice Your Choice
- Merlene Davis, Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader: Black voters have a choice to make
- Brad A. Greenberg, Jewish Journal: Muslim Americans Feel Snubbed in Presidential Race
- Earl Ofari Hutchinson, syndicated: Obama Surge Stalls with Latinos
- Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe: Clinton's shenanigans
- Jerry Large, Seattle Times: The body politic's shifty mind
- Dwight Lewis, Nashville Tennessean: 'We're in this thing to win,' Obama tells journalists
- Ana Menendez, Miami Herald: Rubio's nod to Huckabee is puzzling
- Ruben Navarrette, San Diego Union-Tribune: No holy war in the heartland
- Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune: Huckabee vs. income taxes? It's no contest
- David Roybal, Albuquerque (N.M.) Journal: Richardson Not a Given in VP Role
- Albor Ruiz, New York Daily News: GOP hopefuls run in a hypocrisy derby
- Marisa Trevino, Latina Lista blog: Tancredo's Withdrawal from the Republican Presidential Race Didn't Come Soon Enough
- Ron Walters, National Newspaper Publishers Association: The OprahBama Phenomenon
ESPN's Stuart Scott to Undergo Chemotherapy
"ESPN anchor Stuart Scott is returning to work less than a month after an emergency appendectomy discovered a malignancy that will result in Scott undergoing chemotherapy this winter," ESPN.com reported on Thursday.
"Following his appendectomy in late November, Scott had a second precautionary surgery to remove the tissue surrounding his appendix. Doctors treating Scott are confident any cancerous tissue was removed, but recommended preventative chemotherapy.
"Scott was in Pittsburgh for a Nov. 26 game between the Steelers and Miami when he became ill.
"'Talk about a shocker,' Scott said. 'But I feel good, am in great hands medically and the doctors are confident they got all the bad stuff. I'm not the type of guy to let this eat up my life. I've got strong faith and family and friends who are tackling this with me. I can't find the words to express how much I appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers. I probably won't be able to get back to you all; but know it means a ton.'"
"Scott will host Friday night's ESPN NBA coverage, and lead the coverage of ABC's Christmas Day studio show."
- In her Indian Country Today column Friday, Native American activist and columnist Suzan Shown Harjo awarded her "Mantle of Shame" honors. The Associated Press was among the recipients, partly "for erroneously reporting that Makah hunters used a machine gun to kill a gray whale" off Washington state, "which made a complex, tragic situation a dangerous one for the entire Makah Tribe and all Native peoples. The false report of Sept. 8 machine-gunning both ignited an anti-Indian firestorm and made reasoned discourse on Makah traditional whaling nearly impossible," the column said. The AP corrected the error. "AP strives hard to be accurate at all times. When we do make a mistake, we are committed to correcting it just as soon as we become aware of it," Mike Silverman, the AP's senior managing editor, told Journal-isms.
- "Journalism professor Neil Henry has agreed to be the interim dean of the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, hoping to calm the school's turbulent times," Matt Krupnick reported Thursday in the San Jose Mercury News. "Henry was a finalist for the job earlier this year when Dianne Lynch, dean of Ithaca College's communications school, agreed to succeed former Dean Orville Schell at Berkeley. She pulled out of the job — for the second time — last month without a public explanation. In an e-mail this week to students, faculty and alumni, Henry said he no longer wanted the job permanently, but had agreed to lead the school for up to 18 months."
- "The National Association of Hispanic Journalists condemns the Federal Communications Commission's decision this week to allow media companies to own newspapers and television/radio stations in the country's top 20 markets, a move that relaxed the 30-year-old ban on newspaper-broadcast cross ownership," NAHJ said in a statement Thursday. "NAHJ calls for the U.S. Congress to reverse the FCC's decision, as they did in 2003. The FCC's move, NAHJ believes, opens the door to increased media consolidation, the loss of more journalism jobs, and less diversity of voices telling the news and serving the public interest."
- "Attorneys for former CNN anchor/reporter Marina Kolbe have filed a motion, in U.S. District Court in Georgia, for a new trial against CNN. It was last month that a jury ruled against Kolbe, who says CNN practiced race and age discrimination when choosing not to renew her contract in 2003," the TV Newser Web site reported on Thursday.
- Radio host Don Imus, now based at New York's WABC radio, will donate $250,000 toward a Harlem building that is being billed as the city's first completely green primary care facility, Newsday reported on Tuesday. "Imus and his wife, Deirdre Imus, are helping to raise funds for the $12 million project in East Harlem, a neighborhood with one of the highest rates of hospitalization for pediatric asthma in the nation," the story said. Some Imus fans are not happy.
- Joseph Martin, the editor of the tribally owned newspaper of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians who was given an "involuntary transfer" out of his job, says he is starting an independent newspaper for Eastern Band Cherokees. Martin, editor of the Cherokee One Feather, was cited for stating his personal opinion in the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times while mentioning his tribal position. The Native American Journalists Association on Friday expressed "grave concerns" about the transfer. Referring to Chief Mitchell Hicks, Martin told Journal-isms, "Just prior to my termination I had written columns in both the One Feather and the Asheville Citizen-Times critical of Hicks' interfering in the editorial process, a direct violation of the tribe's free press act." He said he will likely seek a small-business loan to start the new newspaper.
- The Chicago Tribune Foundation announced that on Nov. 7, its board of directors approved $92,500 in civic and journalism grants that support diversity through internships for hands-on journalism experience for young journalists or professional development for established journalists. Among the recipients are the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Black Journalists, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists and the Native American Journalists Association.
- Two months after Dallas reporter Rebecca Aguilar was
- suspended indefinitely after viewer complaints that she appeared insensitive to the plight of the subject of a story, Fox News is still investigating the situation, a Fox spokeswoman told Journal-isms on Friday. The suspension prompted an outcry from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the Dallas-Fort Worth Association of Black Communicators and other groups. Aguilar was NAHJ's "Broadcast Journalist of the Year."
- "With all of the recent debate on religion in politics, CNN's Roland Martin hosts a holiday edition of 'What Would Jesus Really Do?' as he takes a look at the presidential political landscape to ponder how Jesus Christ might respond," the network said. The show, which was to air on Friday, repeats on Monday, Dec. 24, at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
- Americans are missing out because no major cable or satellite company will carry Al Jazeera English, Souheila Al-Jadda argued Friday in USA Today. "What makes AJE distinct, said Dave Marash, news anchor at AJE's Washington bureau and a former correspondent for ABC News 'Nightline,' is its coverage. He said mainstream Western TV networks concentrate their resources on news gathering in North America, Western Europe, Israel and Japan. 'What makes us different is that we focus about 70%-75% of our news gathering resources everywhere else: South America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East,' Marash told me. 'The point of view is very much south looking north rather than north looking south.'" The station can be viewed on the Internet.
- "A new video, purporting to come from al Qaeda, has invited journalists to send questions to the organisation's number two, Ayman al Zawahri," Britain's Sky News reported on Thursday. "If genuine, it represents the first such offer by the terror network to interview one of its leaders since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Al Qaeda's media operation has become increasingly sophisticated and professional over recent months."
- Popular TV host Carlos Otero, who defected from Cuba to the United States on Monday, has landed a gig on the local Spanish-language cable station WJAN America Te Ve, Laura Wides-Munoz reported from Miami Wednesday for the Associated Press. "That means Otero will still be visible to thousands of Cubans, mostly in Havana, who have managed to obtain contraband satellite dishes."
- Reporters Without Borders called on the Iraqi authorities Wednesday to investigate the circumstances in which Ali Shafeya Al-Moussawi, a correspondent of the news Web site Alive in Baghdad, was killed on Dec. 14. "Aged 23, Moussawi was founded dead in his home in the northeast Baghdad district of Habibiya after an Iraqi military raid on his street. According to an autopsy, he was shot 31 times in the head and chest," the organization said.
- "Two men were sentenced yesterday to 35 years in prison for the murder of Costa Rican journalist Parmenio Medina, a popular radio host who was shot dead outside his home in July 2001. The Committee to Protect Journalists hails the conviction as a step forward in the fight against impunity," the organization said on Thursday.
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Feedback on Public Relations: It's About Bloodlines
The story by Randi Schmelzer in PR Week is a nice, passive, journalistic bit of pabulum. She never got to the meat of this tender subject. She didn't even imply what the real problem is in the industry. It's got nothing to do with the crap-screen that the industry put up to deflect its shortcomings. This is about protecting BLOODLINES.
My years in the business in New York were the most dynamic in terms of work and success. Here were numerous opportunities to greatly influence America with messages by subtly presenting diverse lifestyles. Had it not been for my late boss, Billy Davis, you would have never seen or heard a black person drinking Coca-Cola. He was the musical creator of "I'd Like to Teach The World To Sing In Perfect Harmony." It was the best damned diversity message of the 20th century and it worked. Well, when I came to his shop by 1980 - I wound up writing and producing the beer and malt liquor ads, and yeah (shamefully), images of diversity in this category were no problem.
Didn't complain about the ending, but you could easily tell from several of the big industry people I interacted with, theirs was sacred ground for hand-groomed relatives and friends of family who worked on major product lines. That's why the PR/advertising industry in many ways has the most expansive failure record of campaigns. And clients who pay for this walk around in a daze wondering why the bills are so big. Lot of red ink flows in that industry.
It's about BLOODLINES, nothing more— that's why industry reps who were called in to testify in New York (remember the last two years?) were slow to respond to subpoenas and all got lawyers.
At the end of the day, don't expect this industry to change one percentage point. The fact that Jennifer Millman pointed out that the Omnicon investment of $1.2 million into the diversity issue is a "drop in the bucket" for the single largest owner of ad agencies is more evidence of the obvious. You and I both know Omnicon defrays that expense from taxes. Diversity is bump on their broad backside.
If the New York investigations had asked for— no — subpoenaed the top 100 agencies' personnel records and asked a few key questions, they would have uncovered the century-old manner in which the industry operated. Remember, this stuff started back with family dynasties, or what they called companies: Fords, Rockefellers, etc.
The PR/Ad industry is defiant and ain't changing for nobody until they are called out on this issue: Protecting Bloodlines.
Tom M. Jones
Former producer, McCann Erickson, N.Y.
Dec. 22, 2007
Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site BugMeNot.com provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.
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