Australia’s The Age reports:

BAD public relations as well as bad journalism will be targeted by ABC television’s Media Watch next year, according to the program’s new host.

Jonathan Holmes, a veteran reporter with ABC TV’s Four Corners, said he hoped to “expose the more egregious antics of the industry that all too often tries to sway, or mislead, or simply stonewall journalists who are trying to do an honest job”.

He said the public relations industry permeated government and business at every level and exerted undue “influence these days on what we read and hear and watch”.

If it’s successful in Australia, will this program make it to the US? If so, who do you think would be featured?

Don’t you just hate it when you put out a press release over the wires, only to see a gazillion of those junk websites regurgitate the info, often full of typos and sometimes not even legible? 

Well, all those sites, looking to get money from Google AdSense and other ad networks, are taking things to a new level - Valleywag reports on a scam by fake company HD AmeriTV  – and how they got credible sites like VentureBeat.com to run with their fake news.  Now Valleywag is urging people end these shady business practices by not reading press releases.

One unintended consequence that happened as a result of Chris Anderson’s PR blacklist last week was a fight over clients between BlinnPR and 5WPR.

Apparently Blinn’s attempt to use the list to pitch new business backfired when 5WPR retaliated and signed a BlinnPR client, according to an anonymous source. 5WPR’s CEO Ronn Torossian confirmed the tip but would not say which client.

PRNewser came in to possession of the entire chain of emails between the two firms last week and chose not to reprint them. Some are very ugly.

I contacted both 5WPR’s Ronn Torossian and Steve Blinn on Friday. Torossian responded with: “A: Business Week is writing a 2 page feature on me today. B: Blinn is a non existent BS firm.” A is true, see “The Bad Boy of Buzz and His PR Problem“.

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PRNewser has been closely watching the fallout from Alex Rodriguez and his agent Scott Boras‘ decision to announce during Game 4 of the World Series that ARod would opt out of his Yankees contract. It seems universally agreed that people are upset, to say the least, that baseball’s biggest event would be hijacked for the personal gain of one player. Says the San Franscisco Chronicle‘s Bruce Jenkins:

In placing themselves above the game, and on a day that should have belonged strictly to the Red Sox, Rodriguez and Boras had everyone wondering why the hell any team would spend $30 million a year on a phony, a prima donna and a man likely to place his own instincts behind Boras’ desire to find the most money. (Great comment from an incensed Peter Gammons on ESPN: “He’s never played in a World Series. Maybe there’s a reason.”)

You tell ‘em, Bruce! Ok, so the plan in some sense did work. Boras and ARod got the attention they wanted. But to Bruce’s point, they should not be rewarded for this bad PR, and we don’t think they will. Do you?

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Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of WIRED magazine, Long Tail blogger, and best-selling “Long Tail” author created a minor stir in the PR world yesterday when he published the email addresses of over 300 “lazy” PR people guilty of invading his In box. There are a lot of ‘info@’ and other newsletter-type address on the list along with dozens upon dozens of brand-name tech PR shops, some with multiple addresses.

Instead of adding to the flurry of opinions, we contacted the man himself who kindly responded with further context to help the shamed understand. He did after all, say ‘sorry’ in the subject line, and did not use full names and full pitches to in his spammers-delight list. By the way Todd, though we appreciate your honesty, we don’t think lobbing a generic pitch via Facebook ranks alongside the Edelman/Wal-Mart story.

We can’t go in to PR lessons here. Read Anderson’s note and take it to heart. There are real reasons to pitch him, and there are slews of other editors, writers and contributors you could try first. The commenter who complained about the staff directory is really missing it. The magazine has a masthead, and many of their contributors have personal blogs…nevermind, no lessons.

Since Anderson’s Gladwellian transition to Long Tail superpundit, he’s busier than ever. We were pleased he took the time send his comments to PRNewser (quick disclosure: I did PR for Wired in ’03-’04). We hope they help:

Jason, Happy to chat about this. Some thoughts for starters: Of course many pitches have “worked”, which is to say that I have a great relationship with many PR people, mostly because they’ve taken the time to get to know my interests, read what I write, and otherwise contact me with ideas that are relevant. The best of them do such a good job at working with me on things I’m following that I think of them as friends and colleagues.

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On the heels of another mia culpa statement from FEMA, PRNewser received another anonymous leak with the full text of an all-staff memo sent today by Administrator David Paulison. The memo lays out the “egregious decision making” of the Director of External Affairs (John “Pat” Philbin) and his staff.

We’ll keep watching this story. It’s not over yet. You can find Philbin’s email directly to PRNewser is here, and his going-away memo dated October 18th here. Full text of Paulison’s memo today:

October 29, 2007

MEMORANDUM FOR: All FEMA Employees

FROM: R. David Paulison Administrator

SUBJECT: External Affairs Reforms Following Tuesday’s Press Conference

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The moment we received John Philbin’s going-away memo from FEMA via anonymous tip, we immediately used Philbin’s personal email address included to find out more.

Mr. Philbin responded almost immediately, expressing disappointment that we did not seek his comment on the situation sooner. Prior to writing this, I wrote back, explaining that by the time I began my reporting process, his FEMA email was already on auto-reply and his colleagues would only refer me to the statement regarding the problem. After a few reply, PRNewser received a quote from FEMA press secretary Aaron Walker concerning Philbin’s new position at ODNI (now rescinded).

Here is Philbin’s personal email to PRNewser, in its entirety:

Jason,

I am disappointed that prnewser is now seeking a comment when you didn’t ask for a statement when news about the briefing emerged. I did not orchestrate or direct a “fake” media brief as has been characterized in press reports nor did I direct staff to ask questions. FEMA sought to deliver information quickly following a video teleconference about the California fires. The information provided was timely and accurate; however, I should have intervened when staff began asking questions because no media had arrived. I regret not acting in the moment as I should have. As the person in charge, this was my responsibility.

I have spent my entire time at FEMA working long hours and weekends improving its transparency, employee communications and external affairs operations. I regret this has transpired in the manner it has. FEMA is a terrific organization with loyal employees who are committed to helping disaster victims–and it is unfortunate that this message is getting lost in this story.

I respect the Director and understand ODNI’s concerns as a result of this situation.

Respectfully,

Pat Philbin

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PRNewser has just come in to possession of John “Pat” Philbin’s going-away email, dated October 18th. The news of Philbin’s new job at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence was reported in the last line of the Washington Post’s story about FEMA’s apology for staging the fake press conference, confirmed by ODNI’s spokeswoman Vanee Vines. PRNewser also confirmed the job change from FEMA’s press secretary Aaron Walker.

Following Homeland Security’s Michael Chertoff’s “Anglo-Saxon” call for disciplinary action, Philbin no longer has a job at ODNI. The AP and Reuters reported that according to a statement from ODNI, Philbin “is not, nor scheduled to be the director of public affairs.”

PRNewser’s call and email to Ms. Vines were not returned. FEMA’s media department promised to get back to us. We received the full text–complete with Philbin’s personal email (not printed here)–of what appears to be Philbin’s going-away email this afternoon.  It is was addressed to over 70 staffers at FEMA:

From: Philbin, John (Pat) Sent: Thursday, October 18, 2007 12:17 PM

Subject: Transition Note from Pat Sensitivity: Personal Team

Please accept my sincere appreciation to all those whom I have had the pleasure to work with since my arrival last year. FEMA attracts terrific people with enormous passion to help those in need—and I have thoroughly enjoyed my time learning to appreciate this wonderful quality. Although I understood my time with FEMA was limited, I did not anticipate that it would end so soon—or as abruptly. Under most circumstances, I envisioned remaining through the end of the Administration.

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Just three days after FEMA is outed for a staging a fake press conference, its Director of External Affairs John “Pat” Philbin lands an “amazing opportunity to head the communications shop at ODNI,” according to FEMA’s press secretary Aaron Walker (via email to PRNewser). The Washington Post confirmed the news through Vance Vines, Spokeswoman at ODNI.

Philbin and Walker were among the staffers asking questions at the press conference which was carried live by the cable networks. The the agency quickly apologized. More details as they come in.


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On the heels of Karen Hugheskeynote at PRSA, there are accusations abound that the Pentagon took $500,000 of independent newspaper Stars & Stripes’ budget and spent it on a controversial PR campaign instead. “This causes extreme concern among the editorial staff, and could cause readers to question our objectivity as an editorially independent newspaper — an unacceptable situation,” executive editor Robb Grindstaff and managing editor Doug Clawson said in an article on the paper’s website.

From O’Dwyerpr.com: “S&S reported that its editorial staffers were not involved with the America Supports You [ASY] PR effort, and that the editors will conduct a review of all the paper’s stories written about the campaign.” Editor and Publisher: “[The paper] is being investigated by the Defense Department as part of a probe into a Pentagon program that provides publicity for non-profit groups supporting U.S. troops…”

The case probably won’t be closed on this one for a while, but we’ll be sure to keep you posted on all new developments.

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