Lake Effect Communications

Lake Effect Communications

Welcome to PR Fairy Tales

“PR Fairy Tales” is a place for posting examples of questionable statements that diminish those making and those accepting the explanations.


        Please submit your finds to, and, if you wish, add comments, including comments about the thoughts expressed below.

     The PR Dance

           The strength of a public relations campaign comes from the clever, logical truth of an organization.
            But, an unfortunate and limiting distortion has taken hold.  It is wasting the strength of many organizations, including news organizations.
            The lies are familiar to us.  Out in our business and personal lives, we hear “We should go to lunch”.  The crowded commuter train before us at the station many times has “an immediate follower.”  Voicemail messages tell us that “your call is very important to us.”  Airline flights are commonly “on time.”
            Unfortunately, the ability to lie has become prized.  It has even become a definition for work that ought to inform and celebrate, not deceive.
            Begin with the term “spin.”  Isn’t the word really “mendacity?”  “Lying?”
            Trouble?  A sudden executive departure?  A surprising decline in earnings?  Chicanery suddenly made visible?
            In the duet that ensues, with a hunted organization avoiding interested journalists, there are steps that have become reflexive.  They include, for example:
            “. . . left to pursue other interests.”
            “. . . was traveling and could not be reached.”
            “. . . expect no layoffs as a result of (the merger)”
            Usually, the journalist’s dance partner is a public relations spokesperson, sometimes identified, sometimes not. 
            Unfortunately, the barrier phrases recur because, as openly disingenuous as they are, they still bring many journalistic inquiries to a stop. 
            Even so, the willingness of public relations people to be less than honest, coupled with the willingness of journalism to be satisfied, causes great loss of value for both partners in the dance.
            Organizations that prize communications professionals for “spin” waste the power of substance and truth.  News organizations that accept mendacious answers erode value: readers and viewers drop away, soon followed by advertisers.

PR Fairy Tales

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The Inaccesible Frontmen

                        When their companies have achievements and plans for touting, Beth Angelo (Body Central), Raymond Zinn (Micrel, Inc.), Douglas Bergeron (Verifone Systems), Jeffrey...

Abbott Laboratories: well, that settles that. Or does it?

           When the misstated education credentials of a high level Abbott Laboratories executive became a news subject September 27, 2012, the Crain’s Chicago Business report included a tidy answer from a company spokeswoman.
            In SEC regulatory...

Former Governor Pawlenty and clean banking slate

                         New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin used former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s words against him in musing about Mr. Pawlenty’s new role as president of the Financial...

Clear AT&T position, company advantage

                       The clarity and force of remarks made by the senior executive of AT&T, as reported in the September 20, 2012 New York Times, merit attention.

New York Times about the management of news quotations

            "The Puppetry of Quotation Approval”, a September 17, 2012 New York Times column by David Carr, is a good, but sad, discussion of a trend becoming established.  The quotations that appear in a news report may not be the direct replies of the past.  Instead, the quotation that appears in the article may have been...

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

            When Greg Smith, a disgruntled Goldman Sachs banker, announced his departure in a March 14, 2012 New York Times Op-Ed essay, his criticism of the firm as one that aimed at exploiting, not serving, its customers, caused a stir.  It also led to a contract for a book titled Why I Left Goldman Sachs.
            According to the September 13, 2012 New York Times...

Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr.'s Protecting Staff

Anyone looking for PR Fairy Tales has an easy time of it when the search takes place in the realm of politics.  The manipulation or obscuring of facts is a valued talent during the competition found in elections, in efforts to defeat or adopt legislation, and in efforts to earn or deflect attention.  Structurally, the reporting of political news may contribute to the habit of dishonesty.  For example, during the summer’s political conventions, coverage of an address by one partisan always...

Google and the rogue engineer

     Google’s collection of personal information through deployment of cars specially equipped for grabbing wireless records led to a shutdown order from the FCC, and then a search for the origin of the plan.

     Google, according to a Wall Street Journal article of April 30, 2012, “attributed the activity to a single Google engineer. ‘Quite simply, it was a mistake.’” The same article included this: “We decided to...

More than the Roulette wheel ready to spin in New York

           A spicy June 6, 2012 New YorkTimes editorial titled “The Governor and the Committee” questions Governor Andrew Cuomo’s enthusiasm for an expansion of casino gambling.  As he ran for office in 2010, says the editorial, the Governor made no mention of casinos in the eight books of ideas he presented then as his priorities.

'There I was, typing a lie'
     Her courtroom testimony during the trial of former Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards gave the impression that, for a professional speechwriter, a job’s a job.
     In this case, as she told it during the session reported in the New York Times’ May 9, 2012 article, Wendy Button’s assignment was a delicate deflection of any suggestion...