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October 27, 2010

PRSA Letter to the Editor — Financial Times

PRSA had a letter to the editor of the Financial Times published Oct. 27, 2010, in the newspaper's print and online editions, in response to an Oct. 14 FT editorial and an Oct. 22 analysis on the pervasive growth of political front groups.


Way to informed decision-making
Oct. 27, 2010
Sir, Stephanie Kirchgaessner’s analysis of the emerging influence of political front groups (“The pay poll people," Oct. 22), and your previous editorial on the subject (“Barack Obama’s diversionary tactic," Oct. 14), raise fundamental issues concerning the lack of transparency and honesty in political messaging.

The growth of front groups — which prosper by misleading the public on their true motivation and intent — corrupts American politics and does the electorate a disservice. Lacking full disclosure of donors’ identity or of the motivating factors behind specific attacks and messaging, political front groups represent an insidious attack on the public’s trust.
Open communication is essential for informed decision-making in a free society. Without it, the foundation on which democratic societies are built — the free flow of accurate and truthful information — will be tarnished.
Wrapping themselves in a cloak of anonymity may work for front groups while they have the law on their side, but in the court of public opinion and trust, it is becoming increasingly clear their tactics are diminishing Americans’ trust in politicians.
Whether Democrat, Republican, liberal, conservative or somewhere in between, professionals who develop messaging for advertising or branding purposes should strive to uphold ethical standards. Only truth and full disclosure can restore trust in politicians, now historically low, and most front groups lack both.
Gary D. McCormick
Chair and CEO
Public Relations Society of America
New York, NY
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