A Day Without PR People

Did you hear the news? Friday is Public Relations Appreciation Day — in Tucson, Arizona.

Mayor Bob Walkup made the declaration earlier this week to help celebrate a conference being held in The Old Pueblo by The Public Relations Society of America’s Western District.

“[I] encourage all of our citizens to support, understand, and appreciate the intricacies of the practice of ethical public relations and public relations practitioners,” the Mayor’s proclamation, which was incorrectly dated April 25th, 2006, read, according to (what else?) a press release.

Walkup’s acknowledgment of public relations professionals got me to thinking. What would a real Public Relations Appreciation Day entail? Then I thought of a better idea. What would a day without public relations professionals be like? Would it be like the movie “A Day Without a Mexican”?

The entertainment pages of the morning newspaper are filled with salacious stories about celebrities. It’s a day like any other day, except there are no denials, no rebuttals and no “no comments.” Journalists on the beat have a field day at first, but by late in the day they are worried about finding a story to write. With no PR person to feed them information, the entertainment beat writers must actually go out a report, something most haven’t done since college.

In the business world, shareholders of Giganta Corp. are licking their wounds as the company’s stock plummets more than -25% on rumors of a massive product recall. Desperate attempts by the financial media to find out whether the rumors are true prove futile. Finally, with less than 30 minutes left in the trading day, Giganta Corp. CEO Hugh Mungus faxes a handwritten note to The Wall Street Journal saying, “We don’t comment on bad rumors. No comment, I think.” Giganta Corp.’s stock falls another -25%, wiping out billions of investors’ dollars.

Weary producers at CNBC had tried to get Hugh Mungus on the air, but they couldn’t get in touch with him. In fact, the entire cable news world has been thrown on its head and producers have been scrambling to fill air time with news reports from around the world. The silencing of the talking heads turns off most viewers, who promptly discover a treasure trove of “Law & Order” reruns on TNT.

The viewers who do tune into CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and other cable news channels find themselves watching reporters struggling to get the facts straight. Without the information and insights provided to them by PR people, the reporters begin answering questions from anchors with the familiar “No comment.” One even cites his Fifth Amendment rights.

The Federal Government is operating smoothly, but bloggers have suddenly uncovered 16 scandals involving 98 elected officials. The dramatic increase in scandals comes about after reams of sensitive information are inexplicably posted online by a Congressional staffer. Of the 98 elected officials implicated in the scandals, 63 promptly resign when faced with questioning by constituents.

In Tacoma, Washington, local businessperson Sheila Stonecutter is devastated. The launch of her new day spa/restaurant/dog grooming center is a bust after she bombs on the local morning news show. Stonecutter was expecting her PR person to be present to remind her of talking points, but she can’t even remember the address of her business, and the interview turns from a promotional opportunity to an admission of guilt related to a 20-year-old murder. (Stonecutter drove the get-away car.)

Across the country in Fairfield, Connecticut, all heck has broken loose. A bond issue necessary to build a new Science and Technology Magnet School has failed a City Council vote. Proponents of the issue showed up for the council vote ill-prepared to argue their case and provided council members with inaccurate information.

Meanwhile, deep in the heart of Texas, oil company Wildcat Drillers and Sons is about to see a financing deal fall apart. Investors were already concerned by the company’s plan to drill horizontally under the homes of Ector County residents without informing local residents. A public relations impact plan was expected to be delivered to the investors tomorrow, but without PR people, engineers have to step in to finish the work. When posed with the question, “How will Wildcat Drillers and Son allay public health concerns and what is the potential impact on air quality in the region?,” the engineers answer, “Goobers!”

This dramatization was brought to by The Committee for a National Public Relations Appreciation Day.

This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.