Using PR to Counter Negative Perceptions, Unify Industry

The death earlier this year of Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve
Bechler cast a white-hot spotlight on the dietary supplement
Ephedra, which Bechler had been taking at the time of his death.
Coroner Dr. Joshua Perper not only found Ephedra partly to blame
for Bechler's sudden death, but went on to say that no athlete
should take it. But on closer examination, other factors were
involved. Bechler was overweight and most likely took three ephedra
pills on an empty stomach, which could be considered an excessive
dose. Now, the Food and Drug Administration has started to take
steps that could limit -- if not stop -- use of Ephedra, which is
sold over the counter. "Ephedra should belong in all future
textbooks on PR because this is as classic case where perception
has driven public policy," says Colburn Akers, managing partner of
The Aker Partners Inc., a marketing communications and PR firm
which represents Ephedra manufacturers. Below is a plan that Aker
Partners has implemented since it was hired by the Ephedra industry
three years ago. But the material could easily apply to any company
marketing dietary supplements or food products that can be
considered controversial.