Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it

Can you believe a General Motors PR staffer approached ex-Clinton Labor Secretary and current political pundit, Robert Reich, and offered to pay him to use his blog and other communications "vehicles" to say positive things about the auto maker’s worker buyout program? Oh baby, talk about falling asleep at the wheel!

In this post-Armstrong Williams-Ketchum debacle world in which we live, you’d think any PR person worth his or her salt would know better than to approach a political commentator cum journalist and offer him money to shill for them. The Williams-Ketchum mess was major news for months, so I find it hard to believe GM’s combined client-agency team missed the coverage. Or did they?

Reich was right to publicly condemn GM for their foolish offer. The incident, though, leads me to ask another question: if an allegedly smart and savvy marketer like GM is still doing pay-for-play stunts, are there others out there as well? If so, then maybe its time for the Arthur Page Society and the Council of PR Firms to offer refresher courses explaining why pay-for-play is so wrong and how much damage such mistakes wreak on our industry’s image.

And, how about poor GM? Is this Detroit’s version of the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, or what? Someone there needs to get on a ‘fast track’ ASAP or there won’t be any money left in the coffers to procure future pay-for-play deals.

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