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May 02, 2011

Former PRSA Chair Gary McCormick Quoted in Columbia Journalism Review on Growth of PR

Gary McCormick, APR, Fellow PRSA, immediate past chair and CEO of PRSA, is quoted in a feature article in the May/June 2011 issue of the Columbia Journalism Review on the growth of public relations at a time of declining resources for journalism and newsrooms. McCormick commented on the ethical foundations upon which the public relations profession was built and how public relations practitioners push for greater transparency among executive communications, which adds to the news content journalists produce.

The article was also published online by ProPublica in collaboration with the Columbia Journalism Review.

Below is additional commentary from McCormick that was featured in the article:

Gary McCormick, former chairman of the Public Relations Society of America, said that [the belief that public relations professionals practice in "spin"] was unfair. McCormick acknowledged that there have been PR abuses, but he said most public relations people try to steer clear of falsehood. And he makes a pretty logical argument: lying does not work, because you are almost always going to get caught. And when you do, it makes it worse for your client.

“If I burn you, I am out of business,” said McCormick, whose organization has a membership of twenty-one thousand. He concedes that can be a tough message to relay to a client facing bad press. “The problem is when you get caught up with a client, and the business drives you to tell a message differently than you would advise,” McCormick said.

McCormick is right: lies are not ubiquitous, and they are not the heart of the matter. The problem is that there is a large gray zone between the truth and a lie.

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