Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Do We Often Get Asked To The Party Too Late?

Richard Edelman is back to his blog after recovering from his surgery (Glad to have you back!). 

His post today lists a multitude of alternative news frames, including naming of additional spokespersons, organizations and news angles that could help explain to the American people (and the rest of the world) how on earth the U.S. ended up in this financial debacle. 

Richard makes some excellent recommendations-many of which I feel the American press has overlooked in trying to "stay ahead"or in some cases "keep up" with competing outlets.

I know all news media across the country have experienced cutbacks, newspapers are dying and the nightly news has been on the skids for years. My question is: why aren't the press covering more news frames for this economic crisis?

Richard notes, "The single-minded focus on the amount necessary to restore liquidity to the markets, without due recognition of the education process necessary to ensure acceptance, indicates that professional communications advisors were not sufficiently involved from the inception of the process." (emphasis added)

No kidding.

Richard's post points out something that I have been openly debating with my fellow PR peers for years: Do we too often get asked to the party too late?  

I fear that Richard is correct when he points out that professional communication advisers were not involved from the onset of this economic crisis.  What's even more troubling and frightening to me is that they may have never been asked to sit at the table.  That the economic "quick fix" bailout was pushed as the sure-thing agenda that left all contingent planning and discussion a waste of time.  

The amount of time it would have taken Richard or any other seasoned communicator to think through the issues and presentation of them would have been minimal. The widespread panic over the economic health of the United States would have been presented less in the election year "horse race" format (i.e. look how much the market dropped and how much people are panicking now) and in a more a "exploratory" approach (i.e. here's how we got in to this mess). My deepest fear is our fellow professional communicators tried - and failed- to convince the powers that be that this was necessary.

The current economic meltdown is just a recent example of how the news media en masse has failed to address or at least speculate to the underlying causes or factors of major issues facing the world.  Now, I appreciate and understand that a very select few journalists are trying to explain how we got in this mess (NY Times Steve Pearlstein has done a great job), but there seems to be an ongoing trend of covering what others are saying and providing very little straightforward analysis that allows the American people to digest the market issues currently facing them.

If the media is looking for alternative news frames to cover this event, they are beginning to lean on their PR brethren for help.  The past few days, HARO requests for people impacted by the slide on Wall Street as well as for psychologists who can speak to the impact this is having on the American psyche have increased.  My problem is that most of these requests seem to becoming from regional publications that don't necessarily reach a vast audience.

So do we get asked to the party too late?  Do PR pros have a seat at the executive table anymore?  Or has corporate communications fallen so much by the wayside that it has very little impact or influence on the C-Suite or government executive actions?

I hope my deepest fear isn't realized...

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