The Week in PR

  1. photo 1 page8Forget Transparency, Start With Honesty: We spoke with a PR pro recently who counsels companies mired in reputation crises. The pro is called in when, among other things, companies have cooked their books. “This happens a lot more than you’d think,” the pro says. But is there proof? Maybe. Buried in a sidebar without a byline or headline on a recent “Heard on the Street” page of The Wall Street Journal is a story that seems to deserve more coverage. It reports about an article in the current edition of Financial Analysts Journal that notes four business-school professors surveyed nearly 400 CFOs about earnings quality. As the Journal’s unlisted writer (it was Charley Grant) notes, the findings were “stark.” The professors’ survey says CFOs believe 20% of public companies “intentionally misrepresent” earnings, although they use techniques allowed under generally accepted accounting principles. While the companies usually overstate earnings, the CFOs believe about one-third of misrepresenting companies revise earnings downward. The magnitude of misrepresentation could be as high as 10 cents on the dollar, the survey says. “That could easily be the difference between meeting analyst expectations and missing them—between reporting growth or decline,” Grant writes, adding, “this should give investors pause.” It should give communicators pause, too.
  2. Saintly PR: Here’s something journalists don’t see often: a prompt and full press release from a brand that’s lost a court case. Brands that lose cases generally issue a short statement or nothing at all. But recently Catholic broadcaster EWTN issued a release with the subject line and headline “Court Rules Against EWTN in HHS Mandate Case.” The background: The 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled 2–1 against EWTN’s suit, which it filed against a provision in the federal government’s Affordable Care Act requiring employer-sponsored health plans to provide coverage for contraception, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs. As expected, the release includes statements from EWTN’s chairman/CEO and one from its lead counsel indicating how upset they are about the ruling. Yet there’s also a solid history of the complicated, 3-year-old case and—talk about being balanced—there’s even a quote from the court’s majority opinion. In short, just about everything a reporter needs to begin crafting a balanced story. Indeed, the ruling received a good bit of press coverage. More proof that reports of the well-crafted press release’s demise may be premature.
  3. FB iconsPlatform Prater: Communicators and marketers have been waiting anxiously since there were reports of Facebook working on a way to give its 1 billion users a fuller array of emotions beyond Like to react to posts ( PRN, 9/21/2015). The wait is over. Facebook Wednesday launched Reactions globally in the form of emoji representing Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry. “We see this as an opportunity for businesses and publishers to better understand how people are responding to their content,” Facebook product manager Sammi Krug wrote. “We will spend time learning from this rollout and use feedback to improve,” Krug added. “Over time we hope to learn how the different Reactions should be weighted differently by News Feed to do a better job of showing everyone the stories they most want to see.” – The revolving door continues to work well in Silicon Valley. Former Apple communications exec Natalie Kerris joined Twitter as VP for global communications, boss tweeter Jack Dorsey tweeted Monday. Kerris replaces Gabriel Stricker, who left in July weeks after Dick Costolo departed as Twitter chief ( PRN, 7/20/2015). Stricker landed at Google Fiber as communications chief in January. Kerris joins Leslie Berland, the new CMO, who arrived from American Express in late January just as four senior Twitter execs left the shrinking microblogger ( PRN, Feb 1).
  4. Jennifer Swint, President,  N America, Porter Novelli
    Jennifer Swint, President,
    N America, Porter Novelli

    People: Hill+Knowlton Strategies named Fleishman-Hillard vet Penny Mitchell to lead its U.S. health practice. – Porter Novelli named Nick Propper global COO and upped its D.C. office managing director Jennifer Swint to president, N America. Propper was president of Emanate. – Zoe Thorogood, former campaign press advisor to Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron, is joining APCO Worldwide’s D.C. office as a director in its public affairs practice. Frank Majoor, former permanent representative of the Netherlands to NATO and the UN, joined APCO’s international advisory council. -- Clyde Group named Aubrey Quinn VP. Quinn was VP for communications at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.The PRSA Counselors Academy elected Martin Waxman its 2016 chair. Waxman heads Martin Waxman Communications of Toronto. – Rubenstein Public Relations will move its HQ in April to a 20K-square-foot office in a 45-story tower at 1301 Avenue of the Americas in NYC. Jennifer Swint, President, N America, Porter Novelli.

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 29, 2016, issue of PR News. Read more subscriber-only content by becoming a PR News subscriber today.