Aug 31

Try keeping them down on the farm after this

A recent Gallup survey finds most Americans think more highly of farmers than they do public Hollandtown -Holland-Farm -Corn-Harvest_00a relations people.

Now, I'm OK with a tinker, a tailor, a soldier or a spy finishing ahead of a PR executive in these annual rankings, but a farmer? Are you telling me Americans think more highly of someone who has just finished plowing the back 40 than a publicist who knows Hollywood's 40 hottest party spots? Say it ain't so.

The findings actually heartened a few AdWeek readers since advertising and PR rose a few points year-to-year. That's akin to a BP employee pumping his fist in the air because a few less Gulf pelicans died in August than July. C'mon.

I, for one, am a tad disappointed that Americans think more highly of Mr. Green Jeans than they do of Messrs. Burson, Golin and Edelman. How far has PR fallen if American Gothic trumps American Party Planner? (That would be a great name for a new, TV reality show.)

The Gallup findings are just the latest confirmation that our industry's image is being defined by Hollywood. For every 'seat at the table' earned, it seems to me the average American sees us wallowing ever further in the mud. Now, a certain licensing type who posts regularly on Repman, believes an industry's image and reputation really doesn't matter. I couldn't disagree more. Until, and unless, we do a better job of educating Americans about the serious, senior counseling being provided by top public relations officers, the more likely we are to be stuck recruiting talent from the bottom of the gene pool.

It's a serious problem that, for reasons known best to them, remains unaddressed by our various trade journals and industry associations. It's akin to fiddling while Rome burns. Or, in this case, reaping what Hollywood has sown.