Monday, January 28, 2008

Public Relations = Ethics

When I started this blog, I swore to myself that I would not write about anything negative going on in the state of Michigan. We've got the 24/7, never-ending negative recaps on news stations, Web sites, blogs, RSS feeds (shall I continue) to report the negativity that somehow never seems to dissipate. But, as a public relations professional, I felt compelled to write about this despite the bitter taste it leaves in the mouths of many of those who share the same passion I feel for PR.

Mary Kramer, publisher of Crain's Detroit Business, posted a blog that further solidifies what was ingrained in my head the day I started learning about public relations (thank you CMU profs) : Ethics is the foundation upon which PR was built. Without ethics, my profession means nothing. Without exemplifying honesty and truthfulness, my profession is meaningless. Unfortunately, a very well-known PR agency based in Grand Rapids that prides itself in its ability to provide solid crisis communications forgot (maybe intentionally) to be ethical. Ironic, huh?

I will not go more in depth (read Mary's blog) about what exactly this PR firm did (and what its client did) that if proven, was not only illegal, but a true embarrassment to the PR industry. I won't do that because that goes against the positive outlook I showcase in this blog, and the positive outlook I have regarding the profession I'm proud to be ingrained in. But I do have to give props to Mary because she is just shy of an M.S. degree in marketing and is currently enrolled in a PR class. Now unless you're in the profession, you have NO IDEA what a blessing it is when journalists befriend PR pros and understand that we are more than just the stereotypical flacks who "spin" the truth to make our clients shine. But Mary gets it. She confirms that "ethics in PR is a major issue." Now, PR pros may know how to craft the perfect pitch to garner the media's attention or put the right angle on a press release to make a company's product/event/philanthropic work stand out -- but we do it honestly and ethically. There is no room for lies (no, not even teeny tiny white lies) in the profession of PR. This well-known PR firm and its client may very well end up being a case study in future PR classes, maybe even Mary's. But hopefully it will serve as yet another lesson to all of us as to why admitting to failure up front (and then outlining how you plan to fix the mistake), or choosing the honest road (no matter how difficult or bumpy it may be) will ultimately make us stronger, more trustworthy and well-respected in the long run.

Thanks, Mary for writing a very thought-provoking post to remind us why in all walks of life, being ethical is not one quality you want to lack.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Michigan Mittens

If you were to ask any given long-time resident of Michigan if they've ever used their hand to represent the state and point out where they're from, I can pretty much guarantee you they would say yes. I know I'm guilty of that on several occasions! Well, fellow Michiganders, there's no need to resort to turning your hand into a map anymore to proudly show those out-of-staters where you reside. Let me introduce you to Michigan Mittens, created by Erich and Connie Hahne from Clarkston.

The couple dreamed up this crazy-idea-turned-reality while driving home from a weekend at their Upper Peninsula cabin. The maps are embroidered into the palms of the mittens - the Lower Peninsula on the right and the Upper Peninsula on the left. They sell for $20 on the Web site, The mittens are made from Angora wool (perfect for those bitterly cold, dead-of-winter days). Read more about it in this Flint Journal article.

I think this is a fantastic way to give tourists a token to take back with them and Michiganders a fun and unique way to sport their pride during the harsh winter months. It also gives hope to other Michigan entrepreneurs who want to jump-start the economy and prove why small businesses are the backbone of our nation's economy. Kudos to you Hahne family!

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Detroit Poem Holds True 10 Years Later

While reading this week's Metro Times, I came across a poem titled "Detroit" written 10 years ago by Mariela Griffor. "Detroit" was conceived after a conversation Mariela had with Harriet Saperstein. Saperstein ran the economic development organization, HP Devco, is a professor of physics at Wayne State University and an active world researcher on peace and security issues. Saperstein devoted 35 years of work to the architectural improvement of the city. The poem by Griffor may have been written 10 years ago, but it still holds true today. It touches on the negativity and suffering that still surrounds the city, but Griffor also cries out for rebirth and revitalization, such as many are doing today.

by Mariela Griffor

When I drive down from
Grosse Pointe on Warren
a sudden knot in my heart
is born.
The solitude my soul
is roaming
with the images of
a city broken
and gone.
I cross my fingers
hoping I won't see
any black cats
streaming manholes.
Detroit full of churches
and where is God?
Could he be hidden
under politicians' coats?
A mon cher
looked through my car window
and he believed
he melted snow.
His eyes aflame
consumed two seconds
when the red light stops.
City in flames,
who took away your palaces
and gave you back
to a tribal pain?
It was not me,
I am a foreigner,
I just came to see.
Detroit wake up
from your profound sleep.
Build back your empire.
Build it back
so I can see.
Forget about
black LaKeishas
and your white Portias
forget about your yellow Chengs
and your brown Carolas.
Let the golden haze
that rusts on your aura
shine proudly
on your face again.
Let a feeling of goodness
grip the city as if in storm.
Let your dreams flourish and endure.
Turn the holy fight into
Let the happiness return.
Leave your vinegar grief behind.
Let me see Detroit.
Let me see.