In defense of crisis PR: An open letter to Rachel Maddow

The MSNBC host lambasted crisis PR counselors, calling them (among other things) an “open sewer.” The author takes issue with Maddow’s commentary.

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I am a fan. I figure I should get that out of the way at the outset. Unlike many of your peers on both sides of the political spectrum, you lay out a reasoned, well-thought-out argument. My high school debate coaches would hold you up as an example of how to make a solid case.

Thus it is all the more regrettable when you characterize the crisis communication corner of the public relations profession with language like “disgusting,” “mercenary,” “open sewer,” and (my favorite) “the most morally repellant, indefensible thing out of American corporate culture,” words you used during a segment on your Aug. 3 report.

Whether crisis PR has a place in politics is not what I’m interested in discussing. At least, not today.

Contrary to you view—which, by the way, mirrors the views of a large segment of the population who have neither the resources nor the professional obligation to check their facts—crisis communication is not about shining up the image of a company that wants a quick fix to public reactions to repugnant behavior.

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