The New PR Rules

November 6, 2001, 12:00 AM EST

Public relations pros are reassessing their jobs and campaigns, according to Stuart Elliott's New York Times advertising column about the Public Relations Society of America's (PRSA) annual international conference. Held last week in Atlanta, the event drew almost 2,700 attendees looking for advice on post-September 11 PR tactics. “Now, there's nothing routine and there's nothing standard. Everything has to be thought through on a daily basis,” Fleishman-Hillard's Kathleen Lewton, PRSA's 2001 chairwoman and chief executive, told Elliott.

The columnist also notes that reporters have been compiling lists of inappropriate story pitches, including an email about the “fifth annual Scotch Tape Most Gifted Wrapper Contest,” where in a “complete 'winter wonderland' event area” eight people will compete against each other in gift wrapping “a tennis racket, a tricycle and a trampoline. (Yes, a trampoline!)”

Lewton admits that some flacks have been a bit too quick to return to normal, and advises, “The worst possible thing to do is something inappropriate, trying to leverage a tragedy...[because] that could boomerang on a company and create a backlash.” Also, “err on the side of holding back, look at what you're pitching and put it under a magnifying glass,” deciding perhaps to “tone down or repackage an event, a promotion, and make it a little more low key.”

Posted 11.06.01

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