PR 2009 – The Color of Brand

If you are involved with PR, the you must be dealing with some kind of problem, right? Or do you have a crisis? Are you caught up in a PR meltdown or an issue

These are the modifiers often used in conjunction with the phrase "public relations."  Much less frequently do you hear words like boon, bonanza, dividend or benefit. 

That is my perception, anyway, and I think most people would agree with this.  When people think of PR, they most associate negative things like spin and problems.  I understand that in many if not most cases, the words relate to the situation at hand, not the profession or practice; still, there is a certain guilt by association that negatively colors PR as a result.

I am a former (I often say "recovering") engineer and like to apply the scientific method rather than just rely on theories.  So I thought I'd try the following simple exercise to investigate a potential problem with PR as a brand.  It is designed to answer the question: how is PR "spun" by the media?  What does the editorializing tell us about media biases regarding PR?  See below for the methodology I applied.*

You can see the results in the word cloud illustration above.  A diabolical set of words indeed!

Although the exercise in this post explored PR, you could use the same approach to study media perceptions about your brand or category of tech.

Also, you may recall that I have blogged on similar topics previously.  Please see:

Fighting PR's Public Relations Problem

PR Wars and other Problems

I find that all too often PR is brought into discussions of metaphorical wars and problems.  Companies are said to fight PR wars and have PR problems.   Rarely do you see discussion of marketing wars, market share wars and stories about companies just having problems.  No, PR has to be brought in as a convenient but lazy device – it makes a nice headline and story but tarnishes an entire industry.

* Methodology: I searched on the phrase "public relations" in Factiva over the past year, and copied the words surrounding it into a Word document.  I plugged the results into the Wordle word cloud generator.  The word cloud shows frequency of these words by modifying the font size accordingly.  I filtered out phrases in which modifiers were neutral- e.g., "director," "firm," "agent," "officer," etc. and selected words that show sentiment.
I searched back three months, and sorted by relevancy over major publications (this resulted in about 1500 articles overall)  The number reflected are from 500 articles; you could multiply these by four to get the approximate account for one year.

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2 Responses to PR 2009 – The Color of Brand

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