LA Times: Writers Strike Now a PR War

November 19, 2007

The Times’ Lynn Smith takes a deep dive into who’s winning this epic PR battle – the writers or studio execs. For now, the writers convincingly have come out on top in the court of public opinion:

After one week, there was no doubt who was winning the public-image face off. Two surveys, one national and one local, showed that roughly two-thirds were taking the writers’ side in the dispute. In a Pepperdine University survey, only 4% favored the studios; in a local ABC7 News Poll conducted by SurveyUSA, 8% took the side of producers. The rest weren’t exactly sure what was going on with the strike.

However, the publicists Smith spoke with seemed to think differently:

Publicists and crisis managers, however, said it was too early to issue a definitive score card. According to one school of thought, public sympathy always goes to the strikers anyway. Another has it that whoever is the first to walk away from the table, costing many people their daily living, will have to shoulder the blame. When talks broke down, each side immediately blamed the other.

Some publicists said neither side had mounted a particularly persuasive argument on the issues. How the writers want to change their 600-page contract is too complex to explain in sound bites, they said. Until last week, the producers hadn’t said much beyond needing more time to figure out new media.

On the other hand, the writers have been hitting “new media” aggressively such as this hilarious video by Daily Show writers that has garnered almost 300,000 views in four days. PRNewser’s take is that it is the writer’s game to lose, at least in the PR arena. Although many make a decent salary already, we just can’t see people siding with execs such as Sumner Redstone and Les Moonves over the “working man.”

UPDATE: NY Times: Writers Gain P.R. Advantage

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