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Capital PRNews

A quarterly publication of the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America

Vol. 41, No. 2 • Second Quarter 2002

Rewarding opportunities to write and edit Capital PRNews

Capital PR News needs editors, writers, and Web and pdf masters for upcoming issues.
Thoth Awards become an all-day event to remember
Register now for the September 26 awards celebration at the National Press Club.
Public relations and the market meltdown
Public relations means advising management on how to harmonize the organization’s needs with
those of publics – and how to gain competitive advantage from adhering to business ethics.
Public relations do's and don'ts for the scandal-tainted
Recent financial scandals are making some of America's top executives look pretty bad. But
some of their public relations gaffes are making them look even worse. Take Martha Stewart….
Why we love to souffle Martha
Crisis communications lessons from Martha Stewart, John Gotti and Gary Condit – as recounted
by someone who knows food, politics, celebrities and the Mob.
How to look and sound great on TV
Common-sense pointers from a pro, on how to present yourself during television interviews.
Words are powerful weapons
These suggestions for American Indians teach all of us how to join the war of words, and win.
Crisis PR: Most companies are unprepared
Communicating during a crisis means anticipation, media rapport and rapid, truthful responses.
ROI for public relations? 186% or 225%
A 15-year research project reveals how much public relations is really worth to a company.
Publishing and PR: natural bedfellows
A magazine designed to influence consumer perceptions, and guarantee a good night’s rest.
Row, row, row your book, gently to the publisher
How to find a publisher for a book idea that may not sell millions of copies.

The opinions expressed in newsletter articles are those of the authors only,
and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the National Capital Chapter.
Join the newsletter team!
Capital PR News needs writers and co-editors, to make each issue sizzle. Members are
especially interested in articles offering professional practice tips, “it worked for me” case
studies, and lessons and experiences of PRSA Fellows and Hall of Fame members.
Recaps of luncheon programs and professional development workshops are needed, as
are book and Web site reviews and anything else of value to members.
Anyone who writes a luncheon or workshop story receives a free ticket to the event. All
newsletter authors who are Accredited in Public Relations earn points for each published
article toward maintaining their APR accreditation.
If you would like to contribute a story, let the newsletter know of your plans. We’re
particularly interested in getting more articles by Fellows and Hall of Famers. We also
need co-editors and technical experts for each issue, to contact writers, polish
submissions, convert the newsletter to a pdf file and post it to the chapter Web site.
Call editor Paul Driessen at 703-698-6171 or send an e-mail message to
pdriessen@cox.rr.com or Katherine Tynberg at tynberg@mindspring.com.
Editorial information on the next issue appears below, but stories on any other topic are
also welcome. Submissions deadlines are September 3 for the Third Quarter 2002
issue and December 13 for the Fourth Quarter 2002 issue. Themes are:
Third Quarter 2002. Media relations – advice from the experts on how to get your story
out, respond to the needs of the print and electronic media, serve your internal publics,
and satisfy often conflicting demands by clients, the government and third parties.
Fourth Quarter 2002. Campaigns and elections – lessons learned from successful and
unsuccessful political, corporate and other campaigns.
As always, however, we welcome articles on any topic of relevance to our members.

Mark your calendars!

Thoth Awards become an all-day event to remember
You won’t want to miss this year’s Thoth Awards Ceremony, which will be different from
those in years past. Aside from an awards ceremony that will recognize the best in
Washington public relations, a half-day seminar will be added to allow members to learn
from experts in the field. The event will be held Thursday, September 26th at the National
Press Club, and will bring local public relations and communications pros together to mix
and mingle, share ideas and celebrate the best in Washington public relations.
The day begins with a view from the outside, as seen by seasoned journalist Bob
Woodward. Woodward will share his perspectives on excellence in public relations, after
which a panel of noted leaders will discuss what we need to do as individuals and as a
community to enhance effective communications. Afterwards, we will break into groups to
discuss individual focus areas.
Following this thought-filled day the chapter will celebrate some of the best campaigns
from the local area. A mix and mingle reception followed by a keynote address will kick-
off the evening. The final event of the day, the awards presentation, will recognize
excellence in Washington PR.
Register today. Join your friends and colleagues. Register via the chapter website at
www.prsa-ncc.org or by calling 703-691-9212. Register before August 15th and receive a
10 percent discount!

Public relations and the market meltdown

Paul S. Forbes, APR, PRSA Fellow
Most people agree that blame for the bloody wreckage of the American marketplace rests
squarely on the misfeasance and malfeasance of corporate officers, complicit politicians
and supposedly independent auditors. Regrettably, the list of culprits does not end there.
The public relations profession also shares some of the blame for the loss of faith that
has driven the Wall Street debacle.
How can this be? Most of us aren’t policy-makers. We view ourselves as communicators,
and therefore a step removed from the action.
That, in my view, is our problem.
“Public Relations” should mean exactly what it implies – relationships with all publics,
internal and external. It means paying even more attention to bringing messages from
myriad publics to management, than to bringing management’s message to them. It
means advising the top policymakers on the best ways to harmonize the needs of the
organization with the needs of all its publics. It means learning how to gain competitive
advantage from adhering to a code of business ethics, rather than from flouting it.
For too long, most of us in public relations have been focused on the newsroom rather
than the boardroom. We have viewed our principal responsibility as telling our employer’s
(or our client’s) story in the most effective and persuasive manner. This has given us a
reputation as spinmeisters, influence peddlers or mindless mouthpieces for
management. It is why the label of “flack” has been hanging around our necks for as long
as I can remember (and I have been a practitioner for more than 40 years). It is why, like
Rodney Dangerfield, we continue to yearn for that elusive prize called respect.
Top management needs strategic communications counsel more than in-house
journalists. Public relations professionals are – or ought to be – among the CEO’s most
important advisers. If you think that’s a pipe dream, you should know that I served as the
right hand of the chief executives of two large companies. An important lesson I learned
was that they spent about 85 percent of their time on what you would consider public
relations tasks: meeting with board members, employees, managers, union
representatives, politicians, union leaders, financiers, auditors – and yes, reporters. They
tried to achieve consensus in pursuit of their corporate vision. They spent only 15 percent
of their time on line operations or budgets.
I was able to work my way up through public relations to become the right hand of the
CEO because I viewed public relations as “the application of knowledge and insight to the
diagnosis and solution of corporate challenges involving relations with people.” Public
relations is not the performance of routine skills and crafts, such as writing and placing
stories in the media. That’s called “publicity,” and was only a small part of my public
relations department. That’s right: “public relations” and “publicity” are not synonymous.
If we are to become strategic counselors to the CEO, who must be concerned with the
big picture, we must learn to discipline ourselves to become the futurists, strategic
thinkers and communications philosophers within our organizations. In counseling the
CEO, we must bring to the task a wisdom based on a broad liberal arts education and
much reflection and experience. We need to become students of history. We need to
study philosophy, which is the history of human thought. We need to study literature,
economics and emerging technologies. (I didn’t have the benefit of the formal education
most practitioners have today, but I have always been a voracious and omnivorous
Most importantly, we need to study and master the art of business management. The
public relations curriculum belongs in the business school, not in the communications
school. We must learn to think like the chief executive and understand the bottom line
and the imperatives that drive the chief executive – sometimes in the wrong direction.
The CEO will respect us and value our judgment when we instinctively anticipate his or
her problems and are ready with creative, workable and morally defensible solutions
before we are asked for them.
We must be prepared to devise the strategies that will enable the organization to seize
the high ground in dealing with all its publics – consumers, investors, employees, interest
groups, the government and others.
We must, in fact, become the conscience of the corporation. For public relations can and
should be a noble and important calling. Its essence is the promotion of understanding
among diverse groups leading to the widest possible benefit among all parties. Whenever
we have neglected to perceive ourselves in this fashion, we have opened our profession
and our employers to misunderstanding, scorn and contempt.
If the CEOs of American companies were served by public relations professionals who
were guided by these principles, the stock market meltdown could probably have been
avoided. Let’s try to avoid the next one.
Paul S. Forbes is Founder and Chairman Emeritus of The Forbes Group, Counselors to Senior
Management. He is a former PRSA/NCC president and member of the PR Hall of Fame.

Scandal Sheet
Public relations do's and don'ts for the scandal-tainted
Catherine Valenti
The recent wave of financial scandals is making some of America's top executives look
pretty bad. But some of their public relations gaffes are making them look even
worse. Take Martha Stewart.
The domestic doyenne's image has been through the wringer amid revelations that she
sold shares of biotech company ImClone just one day before the Food and Drug
Administration rejected the company's cancer drug.
After a disastrous appearance on CBS' The Early Show where Stewart snipped that she
wanted to "focus on her salad" in response to host Jane Clayson's numerous questions
about her trading in ImClone shares, Stewart hired a public relations firm specializing in
crisis situations.
Whether that move helps Stewart's tattered image remains to be seen, but she's not the
only financial luminary in need of PR help. As the misdeeds of corporate executives pile
up - both inside and outside of the office - here is a practical list of do's and don'ts for
those facing the wrath of angry investors.
DON'T flaunt your wealth when you're suspected of being the mastermind of a huge
financial house of cards or while you're awaiting trial for tax evasion.
Former Tyco CEO L. Dennis Kozlowski, who is awaiting trial for tax evasion, is perhaps
the poster child for this rule. A front-page story in the New York Post entitled "No Shame"
told of Kozlowski's Fourth of July weekend, which was spent entertaining people in his
$12 million Nantucket mansion and $25 million antique yacht.
"Dennis Kozlowski is the Allen Iverson of CEOs," says Paul Holmes, president and CEO
of The Holmes Group, a New York-based public relations publishing and consulting
group. Iverson, the NBA star, recently held an all-night party at his Philadelphia mansion
as he was waiting to be arrested on assault charges.
"Clearly both of them feel that they are above the law," says Holmes.
Though not on the level of the Kozlowski blow-out, other executives are also not being
shy about whooping it up when the chips are down. Former ImClone CEO Sam Waksal
was recently spotted in a loud Hawaiian shirt at a trendy New York City eatery, greeting
passersby as his companions picked up the bill.
Meanwhile, Scott Sullivan, the former WorldCom chief financial officer who allegedly
masterminded the company's $3.8 billion accounting debacle, is in the process of
building a $15 million mansion in Boca Raton, Fla.
"Those types of activities are perceived very differently than they were when the
perception was that the economy was flourishing," says Peter Duda, an executive vice
president at public relations firm Weber Shandwick in New York. "At that time, it was
perceived as just reward for someone who helped a lot of individuals. In these times they
are perceived very differently."
DON'T cry poverty when it's simply not true.
This is the flipside of executives or their families flaunting their wealth.
When former Enron CEO Ken Lay's wife Linda appeared on national television saying
she and her family "lost everything" because of the company's downfall, the claim rung
hollow for people who really did lose their life savings. This is especially true in light of the
Lays' four multi-million dollar homes in Aspen, Colo., which they have since put on the
market, and the millions of dollars that Lay made from selling his Enron stock options
over the years.
"Her appearance clearly backfired on them and I don't think she elicited the sympathy
she expected to," says Duda. "For the average American, I don't think their quote-
unquote liquidity challenge resonated."
DO avoid your home if you don't want to be attacked by a mob of reporters.
Salomon Smith Barney telecommunications analyst Jack Grubman found this lesson out
the hard way. The analyst, who was one of WorldCom's biggest promoters up until the
day before the company announced its $3.8 billion earnings restatement, got a rude
awakening the morning after the company's revelation.
A CNBC reporter followed Grubman down the street asking him why he had downgraded
the company to an "underperform" rating from "neutral" two days earlier, and whether or
not he had an inkling of the company's accounting news. An obviously perturbed
Grubman told the reporter to stop harassing him as he followed the telecommunications
analyst down the street.
"You're supposed to be a person who recommends equities based on your expertise - so
tell us what happened," says Carol Ruth, CEO of the Ruth Group in New York City. "They
have a right to be pursued."
Martha Stewart's broker Peter Bacanovic is reportedly heeding this advice. A recent
article in New York magazine says the bon vivant broker is hiding out at a friend's and
has hardly set foot near his Upper East Side home, where Breakfast at Tiffany's was
filmed, to avoid a reported gaggle of photographers staked out near his house.
"In the court of public opinion right now, perhaps the best strategy is to lay low," says
DO show up at church or a baseball game. This gives the image of being a family-
oriented, religious citizen.
"Church is like the first thing everyone is told to do. Go to church and play ball with your
kids," says Ruth.
Former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow has reportedly been easing the pain of his exile from
corporate life by coaching his son's little league team, according to a recent article that
ran in the New York Times. The Times also said Fastow jogs around the Rice University
campus, teaches Hebrew and attends services at a local synagogue.
Former WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers is also taking refuge in the house of God, and
even made a speech at the end of services at his Brookhaven, Miss.,-based church,
telling the congregation that, "no one will find me to have knowingly committed fraud."
The tricky thing about this strategy is that it doesn't always work, say PR specialists. A
jaded audience may become even more angered at seeing rogue executives spending
their free time kicking back with their families. For example, junk-bond king Michael
Milken paid for kids to go to baseball games while he was battling insider trading charges
in the late '80s, a move that many saw as calculated and heavy-handed.
"The potential for it to backfire is enormous," says Holmes.
DO take some responsibility for your actions.
This one is effective, but extremely hard to find examples of among the current crop of
executives who claim they weren't aware of their company's accounting shenanigans. PR
pros say a simple acknowledgment of a mistake can go a long way to restore at least
some of the public's trust.
"You have to take some sort of responsibility for what's going on, and I see very little of
that," says Holmes. "The blame shifting is incredible."
Bernie Ebbers, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling are among the executives who have
claimed not to have been aware of financial wrongdoing at their companies.
"'I didn't know what was going on in my own company' is just as dumb a defense as a
CEO can make," says Holmes. "The folks who think he's a crook still think he's a crook.
Anyone else who thinks he's innocent is just going to think he's incompetent."
Catherine Valenti is a writer-producer for ABCNews.com.

Why we love to souffle Martha

(Above all else, this nation just can't stand phonies)
Eric Dezenhall
She's blond. She smiles and cooks. Martha Stewart is certainly a damsel, and there's no
doubt she's in serious distress. Why, then, is the public taking such glee in casting her as
a villain?
In the soap-opera love affairs that the nation has with its celebrities, the downfall of a star
is more fascinating than the ascent to fame. But while few people could detail exactly
what Wall Street shenanigans Stewart may have been up to, lots of folks have already
convicted her of a far worse crime: phoniness. Sure, she may act sweet when the
cameras are on, we say to ourselves, but in private she sharpens her knives for more
than just cabbage – carving up anyone, including her underlings, who get in her way.
But if Americans can't stand phonies, we sure do love our straight shooters. Tell it like it
is, shed all pretense, and Americans will draw you to their bosom. There was no better
example of that than all of the tributes to the late gangster John Gotti this May. News
outlets far and wide carried images of oversized flower arrangements piled at his funeral.
That's because Gotti never pretended to be anything other than what he was: a flashy
wiseguy. Murder? Extortion? Gambling? Whaddya expect? He was a goodfella! And,
boy, that camel-hair coat looked great.
Let's review. Martha Stewart called her broker and made a killing. John Gotti called a hit
man and made a killing. Martha was marauded;.Gotti, applauded.
If that sounds like the preview for a Broadway musical, you're following along. That's
because American public life has become a theatrical production, and when the
characters don't play their expected roles they're going to hear it from the audience.
Commonly mentioned in the obituary praise for Gotti was the idea that he was a master
of courting the media. But how did he really do that? Mob bosses, after all, don't have PR
The answer is that he was, ultimately, just himself. What you saw was what you got. No
spin, no press releases and, unlike Stewart, certainly no Mob Living magazine. Combine
that with a contempt for authority, and you have a classic American antihero, one that we
have instinctively loved and cheered for since the days of the Wild West. No, even before
that. After all, what were the founding fathers but outlaws who scoffed at the
establishment and fought to set up their own gig?
We reserve such special contempt for white-collar villains because they operate from
inside the system – that is to say, in the shadows. Back rooms, smoke-filled boardrooms
and private jets are the settings where we imagine the fat cats are pulling one over on the
rest of us. And when we catch one of them at it – aha! – cue the TV lights, 'cause it's
show time.
Trying to weasel out of the charges only makes it worse. When Gotti was tried, he strode
proudly up the courthouse steps and thumbed his nose at the government. Many secretly
rooted for him, and some openly cheered. But when Stewart told CBS that she would
rather concentrate on making a salad, jaws dropped. The same thing happened when
Enron chief Kenneth Lay's wife went on national television and became weepy that she
might lose one of her vacation homes. Examples abound, yet for all the public outrage,
Americans never seem to tire of seeing this same drama play out.
Gary Condit hasn't been convicted of any crime or even charged with one. But his career
is in ruins and he is a permanent figure of public scorn. That's because the public found
him guilty – of hypocritical behavior, of using his position to weasel advantages. He held
himself up to be a pillar of the community, while he was anything but. After that, his blow-
dry haircut and toothy smile became like a mask of treachery.
He paid real consequences, and probably too will Lay, Stewart and the other corporate
bigwigs – regardless of whether they're ever convicted of any crime. Because in this
country, you might get away with cheating, but hypocrisy will get you whacked.
Eric Dezenhall is president of Nichols-Dezenhall Communications Management Group and
author of Money Wanders (St. Martin's/Dunne, 2002) and Nail 'Em: Confronting High-Profile
Attacks on Celebrities & Businesses (Prometheus, 1999). This article originally appeared in the
opinion section of the Los Angeles Times Sunday edition.

How to look and sound great on TV

Deroy Murdock
A very bright, engaging friend of mine recently asked me how best to present himself
during TV interviews. In hopes that he would appear as bright and engaging in two
dimensions as he is in the usual three, I offered him a few pointers that others also may
find useful.
Have something to say. There is no reason to go on a cable or broadcast station if you
are unclear of your views on a public controversy, historical reminiscence or product
launch. Try to narrow your message to two or three key points that you want to express,
even if you receive only severely limited time to make your case. Unless you appear on
PBS’s “Charlie Rose Show,” you will find that TV time seems to run at twice the speed of
regular time. Debate programs, such as CNN's “Crossfire” or Fox News Channel's
“Hannity & Colmes” zoom by. With hosts' questions, opponents' answers, video clips and
colorful graphics all in the mix, don't be surprised if you still have more to say as the
channel cuts to a commercial. Expect that to happen, and plan accordingly.
Practice. Write down your message in just a few bullet points. It's smart to include a
clever phrase, amusing anecdote, saying or vivid image. Ask yourself: “If viewers discuss
my interview tomorrow at work or at home, what can I say that they will repeat to their
friends and loved ones?” Repeat these points out loud to yourself. Repeat them with
colleagues, in person or even on the phone. Address these folks as you would the host of
the show on which you are booked.
Breathe. Once you have been given make-up at the studio (Men: Relax. It doesn't hurt,
and you will look ghostly without it) and fitted with a microphone, sit down on the set with
the on-air talent. Take a few deep breaths. This will calm you down and decrease your
jitters as much as can be expected. It's a good idea to have either coffee, tea or room
temperature water with you. Your nerves, the lights and the constant chatter are likely to
dry out your mouth and throat. Cold beverages, especially on the rocks, tighten your
vocal chords and stiffen your tongue. Lukewarm to hot drinks loosen your mouth, relax
the vocal chords and make it easier for you to speak with a warmer, more mellow voice.
Be friendly. Greet the host and try to set a friendly tone with a light word or two about the
weather, the host's apparel, the appearance of the set, et cetera. This puts both of you at
ease with each other. If your opponent on the show is also on the set, that should make
you appear humane in his eyes, rather than as a heartless tool of capitalist interests. This
likely will not win him over to your side, but might make him less eager to plunge a verbal
dagger into your heart.
Converse. As the show goes on-air, just have a conversation. Talk to the host as if you
were at a restaurant or tavern. Ignore the cameras, unless you are being introduced, in
which case you should look directly into the lens and smile. Before you go on-air, the
stage manager should tell you which is your camera. If not, ask. Once the red light goes
out after your introduction, look at the host and simply chat. If you are on a set with
multiple people, “follow the action.” Look at whoever is talking. You will always appear
attentive, rather than in space.
Satellite feeds. If you ever do live satellite remotes, pick a point in the lens (a spot, a
reflection, or part of the lens covering) and look directly at it. The worst thing you can do
is let your eyes bounce all over the place. You will look like an escaped convict. Listen to
the questions and speak straight into the camera. Blink and turn your head as if you
simply were chatting with a friend at a bar.
Smile. Unless you are discussing a particularly grim story (e.g., reacting to the latest
homicide bombing in Tel Aviv), it pays to show your humanity by smiling. Viewers may
not agree with you, but if you are personable on their TV screens, they are likely to find
you personally appealing. They will listen to what you have to say and perhaps accept at
least part of your argument. On the other hand, if you come across as sour and flinty,
people will close their ears and buy little of what you have to say. As the saying goes, “It's
easier to catch flies with honey than with vinegar.”
Props. Use a prop, if appropriate. If you have some device to illustrate your point, it's
usually OK to use it. Let the stage manager know ahead of time so the camera crews will
be ready for you to display the item. Remember: TV is a visual medium, so bringing
visuals usually works.
Thanks. As your interview wraps up, thank the host for inviting you on the program.
When the host thanks you, do not say, “You're welcome.” That makes you sound put
upon, as if you are doing CNN or Fox News a favor by letting them give you free, global
publicity. The correct response to hearing Bill O'Reilly thank you for being on his show is,
“Thank you for having me here.” Viewers appreciate such graciousness.
Be nice. Be kind to studio personnel, make-up artists, security guards and other support
staff. Just because these folks are off camera is no reason to treat them as anything
other than professionals and human beings. Imperious guests that “dump on the help”
are quickly branded as such. This will reduce your chances of being invited back, unless
you manage to get yourself appointed to the Cabinet or the congressional leadership, in
which case they will have little choice but to bring you on. (And, of course, that's no
excuse for being anything other than gracious.)
Stay in touch with bookers and producers. Let them know about your new ideas,
projects and products. When they call you, be sure to call them back promptly, even if
you cannot accept their invitations. If not, it's smart to steer them toward other people
who could appear in your stead, either in your organization or in another that is an ally.
Producers also can be very helpful in preparing you for appearances, both by providing
you background on the topics to be discussed and in giving you a sense of what the
hosts may most likely ask you.
More practice. Practice makes perfect. Don't be surprised if you do not come across like
Tom Brokaw or Diane Sawyer the first time you go on TV. Or even the second. Watch
videotapes of your appearances and note what you could do more effectively. Also, keep
a close eye on the pros and see what they do well. The more you watch them and work
with their colleagues in the broadcast industry, the more telegenic you will become.
New York commentator Deroy Murdock (murdock2000@attglobal.net) is a columnist with the
Scripps-Howard News Service, a Senior Fellow with the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in
Fairfax, VA, and President of Loud & Clear Communications, a marketing and media consultancy.

Words are powerful weapons

American Indians must join the war of words, and win
David Egner
For some 500 years, words have been among the most powerful weapons used in the
campaign to deprive American Indians of their lands and lives.
Words justified the seizure of the United States by European colonists, the extermination
of much of the native population, and the forced relocation of American Indians to
isolated reservations.
American Indians had few weapons in this war of words. The battle was carried out in
European languages unknown to American Indians, and waged in books, newspapers,
speeches, schools, and later in films and electronic media controlled exclusively by non-
Twisted words painted a distorted and degrading portrait of the first Americans.
Generations were taught that Europeans "discovered" America and therefore owned it –
even though American Indians had lived here for thousands of years. White settlers who
stole American Indian lands were called "courageous pioneers," while American Indians
who fought to defend their families were called "blood-thirsty savages." White invaders
killed American Indians in "self-defense," while American Indians "murdered" whites in
As happens with every minority group under racist attack, words and images that
dehumanized American Indians made it easier to deprive them of their human rights. By
portraying American Indians as ignorant barbarians who needed to be civilized and
Christianized, words were used to convince Americans that treating American Indians as
sub-humans and stealing their land was perfectly fine. In the same way, Americans used
words to dehumanize Africans to justify slavery, and Nazis used words to dehumanize
Jews to justify the Holocaust.
Today, while most American Indian nations continue to be trapped in poverty, a growing
number are finally able to join the war of words over their future, thanks to their earnings
from casinos and other gaming activities. It's about time.
The war of words is important. If American Indians don't describe themselves accurately
to the 99 percent of Americans who are not American Indians, Native Americans will
continue to be defined by destructive stereotypes and distortions.
There is no magic formula to turn around hundreds of years of anti-Indian prejudice. But
here are 10 steps American Indian nations can take to replace lies with truth, and
strengthen their position in 21st century America.
1. Use the news media to your advantage. Don't wait for reporters to come to you –
go to them with news and story ideas that you think readers and viewers will be
interested in. If funds are available, hire an employee and/or a consultant to help
you develop a successful media strategy to tell your side of the story.
2. Don't focus exclusively on local media. National media are interested in major
American Indian stories. When I was an Associated Press reporter in South
Dakota in the early 1980s, stories I wrote about the Lakotas were often carried in
newspapers around the nation, and sometimes internationally. Readers and
viewers far from American Indian nations are often more sympathetic to American
Indians than are nearby residents, who are more likely to feel threatened by land
claims, tax disputes and other conflicts.
3. Emphasize that American Indian economic success actually benefits far more non-
Indians than American Indians. The 198 tribal nations with gaming compacts have
established a $7.4 billion industry that has directly created an estimated 200,000
jobs – about 75 percent held by non-Indians. American Indian nations use much of
their earnings to purchase goods and services from non-Indian businesses –
creating even more jobs and sparking economic development in neighboring
4. If you have achieved economic success through casinos or other development, be
proud of that success, and do not apologize for the tax exemptions and gaming
compacts that helped achieve it. The benefits American Indian nations have today
as sovereign entities are miniscule when compared with the enormous loss they
suffered when most of the land in the United States was taken from them – usually
for only token compensation. The loss of this land cannot simply be written off as
meaningless because it happened long ago.
5. Appeal to the sense of justice and fairness that most of the non-Indian majority
truly has. Some people will always oppose American Indian initiatives. But
American attitudes on race have changed a great deal, and many non-Indians now
accept the fact that American Indians were treated unjustly.
6. Make it absolutely clear that you are not seeking the eviction of individual
landowners in any land claims case, and that other actions you are taking are not
aimed at harming non-Indian families. Confrontation with 99 percent of the U.S.
population is not a winning strategy.
7. When involved in disputes with local, state and federal government officials, go
over their heads and communicate directly with ordinary citizens. For example, a
land claims dispute can cost governments millions of taxpayer dollars and leave a
cloud of uncertainty hanging over a region – hindering home sales and economic
development. If you can show that government anti-Indian positions are harmful to
the non-Indian majority, you can prompt voters to put pressure on their elected
officials to resolve disputes with American Indian nations.
8. When attacked, counterattack. Go to the media to set the record straight when
your opponents spread false information about your activities, or encourage anti-
Indian feelings by appealing to stereotypes. And determine who is really behind an
attack. When it was learned, for example, that tycoon Donald Trump was behind a
campaign to stop the spread of American Indian gaming in New York because he
wanted to block competition for his own casinos in Atlantic City, the campaign was
9. Reach out to allies to stand with you and validate and publicize your arguments.
African Americans victimized by racism are natural allies to denounce anti-Indian
campaigns. Non-Indians with jobs in an American Indian casino can serve as
excellent advocates for economic benefits of the casino. Film and TV stars can
attract media coverage of American Indian issues they support.
10. When funding is available, create American Indian media. The growth of American
Indian radio stations, Web sites and newspapers all give Native Americans the
opportunity to speak to each other and to the world.
For far too long, lies and distortions have created a false portrait of the first Americans.
Too many people still think of American Indians as the screaming, scalping, murderous
savages that John Wayne and other celluloid heroes gunned down to the cheers of
movie audiences. Most Americans have never met an American Indian, visited a
reservation, or learned how to separate fact from fiction about Native Americans.
Journalist Heywood Hale Broun wrote in 1939: "For truth there is no deadline." The truth
about American Indians has been withheld for centuries. It is time for the truth to be told,
and the people best qualified to tell it are American Indians themselves.
David Egner is a former journalist currently working in public relations in the Washington, DC
area. This article originally appeared in Indian Country Today and the People's Path, the online
voice of the North American Indian & Indigenous People. Its recommendations should be equally
valuable to any group or business that is under sustained and unfair attack.

Crisis PR: Most companies are unprepared

Alan Caruba
The Chinese word for crisis, wei-ji, is composed of two characters. One represents
danger; the other, opportunity.
The concept perfectly describes a crisis event that hits any kind of organization, large or
small. Unfortunately, few organizations are prepared for a crisis. And while not all crises
are spectacular or national in scope, they can have a devastating effect on any
company’s reputation.
For example, a few years ago, in a small New Jersey shore town, the borough engineer
and elected officials spent seven months fending off verbal attacks by a citizens’ group
that was convinced the officials were poisoning everyone by introducing cancer-causing
agents into the water.
Their “crime” was that they had sponsored the rehabilitation of a small section of the
water treatment plant’s pipe system, using an innovative process that had won a top
award the previous year in Great Britain. Never mind the endless documentation
supporting the project, the controversy raged on until I was hired to apply basic crisis
communication techniques.
Within a month, the largest daily newspaper serving the shore town assigned two
investigative reporters to the story. Their article demolished the false claims of the
citizens’ group, highlighted favorable court decisions, and brought out other facts that
effectively ended the turmoil.
In lectures around the nation, I keep repeating the mantra that the only public relations
that works is the truth. This is not the popular perception of crisis public relations, which is
often seen as twisting the truth in some fashion. “Spin,” to use the common vernacular.
However, truth alone is not sufficient to avert a crisis in communication.
Here are some basic principles of crisis communications:
• In an era when any news story occurring anywhere in the world can become
national and international news within minutes after it breaks, it is essential to
develop and maintain a rapport with news media organizations that are local to
your interests and national in terms of their outreach and influence.
• Anticipate a crisis event by having basic information about one’s organization
available in the form of a simple, one-page fact sheet. The media will report the
data you provide or find it elsewhere, as often as not, from groups whose goal may
be to put you out of business.
• Designate a "crisis team" of spokespersons. In these times, that generally means
the CEO and, in large organizations, the communications professionals.
• For organizations too small to have a communications staff, a working relationship
with a public relations counselor or agency is simply part of the cost of doing
business in this day and age.
• Immediacy is a key element of any program to control the impact of a crisis event.
The news media that will report on the event must receive a statement (a news
release) on the same day a crisis occurs and responding to the circumstances in
an appropriate fashion. The public wants to know that there is a concern for those
• Another key element is being proactive. Sometimes overused and misunderstood,
this term really means stepping forward to present the facts and tell your story to
officials, journalists and the public, and not waiting for them to call you.
There is, of course, much more involved in the way crisis communication options are
applied. But suffice to say that lawyers will advise against "going public" in any significant
way. They are wrong. Silence is perceived as guilt.
It is a fact of life that the news media are largely devoted to the notion that everyone in
government or business is solely motivated by greed or some evil obsession to harm
everyone in some fashion. Their guilt is assumed. Yes, there are bad apples in every
barrel, but those of us who work for or with companies know that most organizations work
very hard to avoid the accidents and events that create problems.
However, Americans and the media seem obsessed with the notion that every single
product, process and activity must be absolutely free of any potential harm at all times.
Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.
The human element, mental fatigue, natural disasters and every other thing that can go
wrong ensures the need for a functional crisis communication plan. It’s another fact of
life, and organizations that recognize this are half way there, to responding to the next
crisis that pays them an unpleasant visit.
Alan Caruba (acaruba@aol.com) is a public relations counselor in Maplewood, N.J.

ROI for public relations? 186% or 225%

Ferne G. Bonomi APR, Fellow PRSA
How much is the public relations function worth – in dollars – to the organization?
In 24 in-depth case studies, CEOs gave answers averaging 186 percent.
Those were responses from organizations at the top and bottom of a scale of excellence
in communication stemming from a massive 15-year research project chaired by James
E. Grunig, a professor at the University of Maryland (and a PRSA member). Grunig
reported his findings to audiences at Iowa State University in April. He earned his
undergraduate degree at ISU and reminisced about sitting in the same auditorium where
he was now speaking.
Among organizations near the top of the scale, the CEOs’ estimates for their return on
investment in public relations averaged 225 percent. Asked for reasons, the CEOs cited
the role of public relations in avoiding crises, strikes and litigation – “the kind of thing that
happens once every five or ten years” – and in developing long-term relationships,
managing conflict, meeting objectives, and reducing the cost of regulation and litigation.
Another reason: One characteristic of effective public relations programs is the ability to
cope with activists. Larissa Grunig, James’ wife and co-researcher, explained that outside
activists often “push the organization to improve” – though other communications experts
point out that many activists are in the business of attacking and shaking down
companies. In either case, those who handle the pressure constructively “are nourished”
by the experience.
Grunig is the project director of an undertaking commissioned by the Research
Foundation of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) in 1985.
In his preface to the first book about the study, he listed two research questions:
1. What are the characteristics of an excellent communications department?
2. How do excellent public relations make an organization more effective, and how much
is that contribution worth economically?
Overall, the project involved 310 organizations and 3400 employees in the United States,
Canada and the United Kingdom. Employees filled out 10- or 20-page questionnaires.
The questions and “all possible responses” added up to 1700 items, Grunig observed.
After the basic data processing was finished and the scale was established, researchers
went back to 24 organizations for qualitative interviews with top executives, including
some at both ends of the scale.
What are the characteristics of public relations that increase the likelihood it will
contribute to organizational effectiveness? The researchers singled out ten attributes.
• The public relations unit is headed by a manager, rather than a technician.
• The senior public relations person is part of or has access to the group of senior
managers with greatest power in the organization
• Excellent departments integrate all public relations functions into a single
department or have a mechanism to coordinate the departments. Public relations
is not splintered into a supporting tool for other departments such as marketing,
human resources, law or finance.
• The organization develops programs to communicate with strategic publics, both
external and internal, that provide the greatest threats to and opportunities for the
• Issues management is the link between public relations and strategic
• Two-way symmetrical public relations is based on research and uses
communication to manage conflict and improve understanding with strategic
publics. Excellent public relations departments model more of their communication
programs on this model than on the press agentry, public information or two-way
asymmetrical models.
• Decentralized management structures give autonomy to employees and allow
them to participate in decision-making. Symmetrical communication with
employees increases satisfaction with the organization, because employee goals
are incorporated into the organizational mission.
• Excellent programs are staffed by professionals – people who are educated in the
body of knowledge, are active in professional associations and read professional
• The principle of “requisite variety” states that effective organizations have as much
diversity inside the organization as in the external environment. Excellent public
relations includes both men and women in all roles, as well as practitioners of
different racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
• Globalization: The generic principles of public relations apply, but specific
applications must reflect a nation’s culture, political system, economic system,
extent of activism, level of development and media systems.
To sum up the Grunigs’ research, public relations contributes to organizational
effectiveness when it helps reconcile the organization's goals with the expectations of its
strategic publics. This contribution has monetary value to the organization. Public
relations contributes to effectiveness by building quality, long-term relationships with
strategic publics.
Organizations have an impact beyond their own bottom line. They also affect other
individuals, publics and organizations in society. As a result, organizations cannot be said
to be effective unless they also are “socially responsible” – though the meaning of
“corporate social responsibility” can vary widely – and public relations can be said to have
value when it contributes to the social responsibility of organizations.
The discussion of value appears in The Excellence Series’ third book, which reports
results of the Excellence study. The second book in the series, a Manager’s Guide, is
shorter and simpler, but omits the material on “value.” Royalties from the three books go
to the IABC Research Foundation.
Information about ordering the three books can be found at http://www.erlbaum.com.
Click on Books, choose “simple search” and insert “Grunig” in the “author” box. The
Excellence books are at the top of the list in paper and cloth. They are:
‘ Larissa A. Grunig, James E. Grunig, & David M. Dozier (2002). Excellent Public
Relations and Effective Organizations: A Study of Communication Management in
Three Countries. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
‘ David M. Dozier with Larissa A. Grunig & James E. Grunig (1995). Manager’s
Guide to Excellence in Public Relations and Communication Management.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
‘ James E. Grunig (ed.). (1992). Excellence in Public Relations and Communication
Management. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Ferne G. Bonomi, APR is a PRSA Fellow in Ames, Iowa.

Publishing and PR: natural bedfellows

Al Rickard, CAE
No one will be fighting over the covers in this marriage. A unique program joining
together publishing and public relations at the Better Sleep Council (BSC) has created a
new publication aimed at influencing consumer perceptions.
Most association magazines are industry publications aimed at members. But
sometimes a magazine can support public relations objectives to external audiences, too.
That’s what prompted BSC to launch a new magazine, Sleep Savvy, in March 2002.
As the public relations arm of the International Sleep Products Association (ISPA),
BSC’s mission is to educate the public about the importance of sleep to good health and
quality of life.
The retail marketplace – including thousands of stores that sell mattresses – is a
critical link in reaching consumers. Ongoing research conducted for the BSC by New
York City-based Applied Research and Consulting had documented certain negative
consumer perceptions about the buying experience and the shopping environment.
The company also surveyed retail sales associates and retail owners to identify
ways the problem might be addressed. High turnover among salespeople in the industry
and a lack of “community” among this group were considered contributing factors.
Another was the gap between the perceptions of retailers and customers.
BSC could have simply developed brochures or other collateral for retailers
containing messages about ways to help consumers make educated buying decisions.
But this approach would have been expensive, offered limited editorial space, and been
essentially a one-time shot.
Instead, BSC saw a larger opportunity: to deliver a greater depth of information on
a consistent basis, providing a powerful source of knowledge to the front lines of the
industry. Moreover, it was an opportunity to create a new magazine designed specifically
for retail salespeople, reinforcing their professional identity and giving them tools to do
their jobs more effectively. Thus was born the concept of Sleep Savvy, a magazine that
now reaches all 20,000 mattress retailers in North America six times each year.
“We needed the support of retail salespeople to help deliver our consumer
messages,” explains BSC Director Andrea Herman. “By giving them this magazine, we
can help them provide consumers with more value, enhance the image of our industry,
and sell more mattresses in the process. We’re offering them possibilities for building
their business in a pro-consumer way.
“We didn’t just pretend to be Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland and decide to put
on a show,” she said of the magazine launch. “Three years of research, strategic
planning, and time spent building volunteer support went into it.”
BSC hired Association Vision, a public relations and publishing consulting firm, to
conduct follow-up research on the potential advertisers, prepare a business plan, and
help win approval from the BSC board of directors. At the same time, it hired Nancy
Butler, a former BSC director and ISPA magazine editor, to develop the editorial
approach. While Butler mapped out the editorial mission, content and visual presentation,
the consulting firm focused on developing a system and advertising rate structure to
produce regional editions.
Because many manufacturers operate regionally, this was an essential component
in winning volunteer approval for the magazine. Through the regional editions, all
manufacturers have an equal opportunity to advertise to their target audiences at rates
that match their market reach.
Several mattress manufacturers that advertise in Sleep Savvy serve on the BSC
board, where they have a broad perspective on the industry and formulate strategy for
the public relations program. They provided the critical support needed for the new
venture, and the advertiser base has already expanded to many additional members.
From the beginning of the launch process, BSC and ISPA executives were
confident that manufacturers would support the new magazine. By the time the inaugural
issue was launched, contracted advertising revenue already accounted for 60 percent of
the total budgeted income for Sleep Savvy for 2002.
“The success of Sleep Savvy proves that, if you have a strong idea that’s right for
your market, it will succeed even in a down economy,” says Herman. And success, as we
all know, is one of the keys to a good night’s sleep.
Al Rickard, CAE, is chairman and president of Association Vision. He can be reached at 703-
402-9713 or arickard@assocvision.com. This article was excerpted with permission from the May
2002 issue of Executive Update magazine, published by the Greater Washington Society of
Association Executives.

Row, row, row your book, gently to the publisher

Amy Bowles Reyer, Ph.D.
Finding a publisher for a book idea that may not sell millions of copies is challenging.
Even if your idea is compelling and promises to sell moderately well, most major
publishers will not be interested, as they are looking for best sellers to pay the rent. Now
that the economy is officially in the tank, attracting even smaller publishers can seem like
a bit of a pipedream.
Too depressed to read on? Well, don’t be! Try to summon your competitive nature and be
creative about getting a publisher’s attention. It is like any other PR challenge. You just
have to know how to draw out your particular strengths as an author and businessperson.
My story begins a few years ago when the Dot-Com wave was anything but a rogue. My
freelance writing business was booming and I could hardly keep up with all the work that
was pouring in from websites that needed content. I was writing a monthly women’s
column, a monthly gardening column, a home renovation series for the Discovery
Channel’s website, and back-to-back feature articles about women’s issues, dog shows,
antiques and collectibles, the sinking of the Titanic. You name it, I wrote about it. I now
refer to that time period as “the glory days.”
So, riding high in the sky and thumbing my nose at everyone who told me that I wouldn’t
make any money writing, I developed a book concept. The book was called Dot-Com
Mom and it would feature many women who, like myself, were successfully running Web
businesses, primarily from home, and simultaneously raising children. My literary agent
loved the idea so I quickly pulled together a book proposal. She made some phone calls
to major publishers who were apparently drooling over the idea. What a breeze – or so I
Unfortunately, my proposal was sent out to publishers in late April of 2000, the eve of the
Dot-Com crash, which came down like a ton of bricks, all over my proposal and its ill-
timed arrival. Publishers who had expressed interest were no longer even looking at “Dot-
Com” books of any kind. Ugh.
I continued to talk about the book idea to everyone who would listen, and this paid off.
Not only were people interested, particularly moms, but they also begged me to write it
anyway. I had learned my lesson long ago, however, not to waste my time writing a book
without a publisher! But it kept me interested in the project and committed to trying more
creative ways of gaining a publisher.
One of my Dot-Com moms from the book had a great suggestion, “write a press release
about the book and start a website.” This was Judith Lederman, a PR person and writer
who ended up becoming a Dot-Com mom by accident. Working full-time, she and her
husband were plagued by nanny problems. So Judith decided to write a book called
Searching for Mary Poppins: One Family's Quest for Perfect Childcare. She had a
publishing deal that fell through but in the meantime had started a website –
www.searchingforpoppins.com to promote the book and provide practical information
about seeking quality childcare.
After the Louise Woodward case, she said, “the press releases I had written to announce
the book were suddenly being picked up by the media. Before I knew it, I was doing
Oprah, Dateline, NBC and radio shows. The NY Times called me and asked to excerpt
my ‘book’ in their Sunday Money & Business section.”
There was only one small problem, without a contract, she hadn’t written the book yet!
She sent excerpts and got to work quickly. Now, three years later, her book has been
published on the Web and is available for purchase by download.
My agent suggested that I rename the book and expand it to focus on home-based
working moms in general rather than just web-based businesses. This increases the
market for the book considerably and also gives it a longer shelf life.
Following this advice didn’t get me on Oprah, but I did appear on a local cable show in
Maryland called Weburbs. This show gave me the opportunity to reach a wider audience
than I could on my own and also offered something even more valuable – a promotional
video-tape of me discussing and selling the book in person! This plays on my strengths
as an author and businessperson, because I am good spokesperson for my work. And
this is exactly the tool that my agent says she needs to get publishers interested.
In short, act as if your book is already published and promote it accordingly:
• Allow the demand for your book to help you attract a publisher.
• Write press releases.
• Contact your local cable shows (they are dying for people to interview) and ask
them to have you on to discuss your book.
• Send copies of your taped interviews to your agent or to publishers, to
demonstrate how well you will be able to sell the book yourself.
• Finally, craft your book proposal to attract the broadest audience possible.
I wish I could conclude this by telling you the name of my publisher and the forthcoming
date of publication, but my agent is just now in the process of sending it out again. Will
these strategies pay off? She thinks so. I hope so. Tune in later for the next chapter of
rowing to the publisher!
Amy Bowles Reyer, Ph.D. (amybowles@aol.com, 301-652-4302) is a freelance writer in
Bethesda, MD. She covers women’s issues, American history and culture, parenting and
business, while also doing corporate communications and PR for various clients.