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I will be writing an occasional feature called Your Take, which will be about issues of importance to the public relations industry.
I don’t profess to know all of the answers and I hope that you will speak out on these issues here or in your own blog if you have one, Thus the title “Your Take.”
Let me know if you see anything out there in the industry that you feel needs attention. Send an e-mail, or if you use del.icio.us links, just tag any article for:kamichat.
Let’s (constructively) have an open discussion about making PR a better profession.
PR Over Billing Clients
A couple of former employees of Fleishman-Hillard in Los Angeles, were convicted of a conspiracy and fraud this week for over billing the city of Los Angeles for public relations consulting services. The practice was something they called “value billing,” or billing for the value of the services versus the actual hours spent. It reminds me a little of some auto mechanic mechanics billing.
I was first made aware of this case on July 19, 2004, when PRSA sent out a Professional Standards Advisory as part of an advocacy program started by PRSA to advocate for the profession and for “developing timely Society commentary about current issues and events.”
PRSAs advocacy effort allows it to have a voice when such issues arise:
The phrase “value billing” does not appear in the code of ethics for the Public Relations Society of America, said Mike Cherenson, who heads the group's advocacy section.
The people charged with the crime were convicted and one of the largest professional associations spoke out against such practices. Call me naive, but I think that is a good thing. Is it perfect and does it solve all problems? Not by a long shot, but it is a start for a profession that hasn’t historically done these kinds of things. I feel strongly enough about it that I agreed to become the local advocacy representative for PRSA in San Antonio
You can subscribe to the RSS feed for PRSA’s Advocacy Room to get timely updates or visit the PRSA Advocacy section online.
Lauren Vargas, a blogger at Communications Anonymous says, “Numerous posts reference ethics, but fingers are not being pointed or solutions offered…just discussing about what may be wrong.”
Good question Lauren, do you all have any thoughts about how PR Agencies be more transparent about billing? What else would you like to see professional associations, or the PRSA Advocacy committee do? When does a practice become a lot more than an ethics issue, and enter the criminal realm?
Over Hyping Google Trends
Okay, I was pretty amused by Steve Rubel’s (sorry to pick on you twice in one day) post about Google Trends last week. I mean it is fun to look at search trends, but it doesn’t show that one company is doing better than another, in fact, maybe I am unimaginative, but the only this it tells you is what people are looking for and not why. For instance, I would expect there to be more searches about the Blackberry, given the recent court cases, than the Treo – so how does that make Blackberry more popular (Rubel’s #6)?
Then, I read this article in PR Week today and had to chuckle at Keith O'Brien’s slam of the arithmetic those of us in public relations when it comes to Google Trends.
So, what is your take?