I recently cleaned out 15 years worth of corporate files and in a folder of career-related gems I found this old column from Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post from back in October of 2000. Read the full article here, I'll wait. The key quote:
I phoned 15 PR people, nine of whom leaped at the chance to mortify themselves in print in return for a few meager lines of positive ink for their clients. (I chose only the most embarrassing).For the past 10 years, PR people have been debating whether this article should have happened, whether they themselves would have taken Weingarten up on the offer, and how everyone else's jargon-laden press releases contribute to the overall reputation of flacks.
Re-reading this article brought back memories of a simpler time--the Internet was the new frontier and e-mail its stagecoach. Think of the tweets and Facebook backlash these PR people and the journalist would have been under.
And I realized that I have actually met one of the profiled flacks recently (not disclosing which one).
I Googled around, trying to see if this article stayed with these PR people over 10 years. All but one still have Weingarten's article on the first page of their results, which means everyone who searches for Alicia Levine will know that she once got a standing ovation for accidentally appearing naked from the waist down at a basketball game.
Apparently, this hasn't hurt her PR career. In fact, ever the spinmeister, she has this to say on her LinkedIn profile about her work on behalf of her client: Applied innovative methods to secure additional MuseumShop.com premium coverage with The Washington Post Magazine.
Innovative methods, indeed. There's nothing like getting the Washington Post to say your client represents the pinnacle of human achievement.