The PR Goof of the day today is a rather high profile one. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has retained a Tampa PR firm, The Publicity Agency, to handle a media blitz campaign in light of upcoming impeachment hearings in his home state. From this writer’s perspective, this is the first I ever heard that TV network coverage supersedes the jurisdiction of a State court.
From the news, it is clear that Blagojevich intends to skip the boring trial proceeding and head straight to Good Morning America, for his day in court. A quote from the ABC online variant states:
“The governor has decided that he wants to speak and tell his side of the story, and he enlisted us to help,” Glenn Selig, the PR firm’s founder, said on Saturday.
Blagojevich is accused of abusing his position in trying to benefit from his ability to name President Barack Obama’s replacement in the U.S. Senate. The Governor has had several interviews where he moans about being the victim in this sorted affair. Tomorrow’s Good Morning America appearance will be followed by one on ABC’s The View, as this comedy of PR goofiness ramps up. Blagojevich is also scheduled to appear on Larry King Live, and though Larry looks like a judge, somehow I think his fate is in other hands.
Public Relations and Lawyers
The details are not so important for PR professionals or the Goofy Awards, as the implication. The question is; “Should any credible PR agency even undertake such a campaign?” I suppose if Johnny Cochran can make a big name defending O.J., and the money is right, then some agencies would jump at the chance. However, I know that turning down such a fiasco would render as much good publicity as the bad this one will sling. There will soon be a new joke that involves PR men, lawyers and the bottom of the ocean fear.
I know many readers will say; “What is so bad about sending the message of a public official in this way?” The answer is it gives us all a bad name as sensationalists and “hype” mongers. A smart PR move would have been to take the high road and let some scum bag agency further ruin their credibility. The bottom line here is; “Who is going to believe this bozo when he is either too scared or too stupid to answer the charges in a court of law?” I mean, after all he is a government official himself. What does this say about our legal system if it can be further circumvented by publicity and the media?
It will be interesting to see how the court handles this issue, and the reader should not be surprised to hear of the good governor’s incarceration after stepping out of the ABC studios. According to the PR firm’s founder Glenn Selig, his agency will be dealing with personal matters of the governor rather than directly with Illinois state business. That statement alone surely does carry a good deal of water, given that Selig’s mouthpieces have been handling Illinois Police Sergeant Drew Peterson’s PR. Not withstanding that Peterson is innocent until proven guilty of involvement in his 4th wife Stacy’s dissapearance, and his 3rd wife’s mysterious death, one would think that at least Blagojevich would have had reservations about using the same firm. Perhaps there are more PR firms of higher principles than we might imagine.
At any rate, it is not our purview to judge fully the credibility of others. However, people see PR in such a bad light because of such “dog and pony shows”, it is just bad business for all of us. As for the good governor, he is really more guilty of a PR GOOF than they, as a good lawyer and a good case is hard to beat if you are innocent. Congratulations Governor, you can take the PR Goofy Award for today with you to the jail.