The PR Game

photo by Jesse McClain "Sunrise New Smyrna Beach"
I've been reading a fascinating book called, "Toxic Sludge is Good For You!" by John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton. At one point in the book they write about how Nestle in 1980 hired Rafael Pagan and Jack Mongoven to manage the image of Nestle because of the Nestle Boycott. They developed dossiers on groups-clergy, labor unions, etc supportive of the boycott. The boycott ended in 1984 but in 1989 the boycott was renewed. Nestle then hired "Ogilvy and Mather Public Relations to develop a strategy called 'proactive neutralization,' which included plans to monitor Nestle's critics..." The back cover of this book explains what this book is all about, "This book names names and reveals how public relations wizards concoct and spin the news, organize phony 'graassroots' front groups, spy on citizens, and conspire with lobbyists and politicians to thwart democracy." I highly recommend reading this book to get a good understanding of the PR Game. Should we be shocked that Medela has hired Ogilvy Public Relations? Ogilvy and Mather and Ogilvy Public Relations are part of one huge company.
To my surprise the other day, I realized that there are many players in the PR Game. Jennifer Laycock, of the lactivist blog, is hailed at one website as "Marketer of the week-Jennifer Laycock Unleashed." They ask, "Your biggest disaster? That would have to be my Bento Yum experiment. I was writing an article series based on a hobby site and the community discovered I was a marketer and turned on me like rabid dogs."
Jennifer teaches a workshop on "viral marketing and link baiting." She was a guest blogger in a discussion on , "Church Marketing Sucks."
Now my question is, who hired her to do the lactivist blog? Who? Prolacta? Medela? A non-profit breastfeeding organization? Shouldn't we be happy that we, too, have our own PR people? Which story to believe? Is the big story of "Got breastmilk" a fabrication? Is the California Milk Processor Board really going after someone in Alaska for using the "Got Milk" trademark? AT the US Patent & Trademark Office the trademark was filed in1993 and states "No claim is made to the exclusive right to use 'milk' apart from the mark as shown." (trademark #1903879) The California Milk Processor Board owns the trademark and a man named Jeff Manning, a PR man was board director for some time (no longer). Manning is credited with the slogan, "Got Milk." While the California Milk Processor Board seems to represent dairy farmers, its board seems to represent Dean Foods, Nestle, etc.) So is this one PR stunt versus another PR stunt? How do you get to the truth? There is the rub.....Obviously, we are a society that loves our lies. We don't demand the truth from our politicians, our non-profit organizations, and we definitely don't demand that corporations tell the truth.
When I tried to sign up at various "lactivist" private group internet discussions a few years ago, I was refused permission to be on those group lists. I felt very offended. But now I understand. Lactivism seems to have started out as a PR stunt. Where does the truth reside when everyone is playing this game? Does it serve breastfeeding promotion? Or do we get lost in the subterfuge, the lies, and the games?
Copyright 2008 Valerie W. McClain

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