Journalism and Influencing Public Opinion


The 7th Lubavitch Rebbe  had a high regard for journalism as a profession and I surmise from what others have said about him on this topic that he also had a high regard for public relations, or more specifically media relations, practitioners as well. The Rebbe perceived a clear need, so I am told, for journalists and, indeed, other writers to be influential in their writings in order to sway public opinion.

While I agree that the job of a public relations professional is to gain the public’s interest and, hopefully, positive interest in a particular issue, I respectfully disagree with the Rebbe that this is, or should be, the mission of a journalist. While I know it can often have that effect, I don’t believe that journalists should give their personal opinions when writing in journalistic form and from that platform.  All my formal training in public relations and journalism and my reading on journalism and journalistic writing has led me to believe that reporting by journalists for a public media outlet (e.g. newspapers, radio news, TV news etc…) should be written as unbiased as possible. While journalists do have the opportunity to inform their readers, they should not tell readers what to think (opinion), but, rather, what to think about (subject).

 The Rebbe was not only learned in Torah, Jewish law and spiritual matters, he was formally educated in science, mathematics, philosophy and engineering at European universities and  institutions, before qualifying as a licensed electrical engineer.

Verse from Torah: A voice is heard on high, the “higher” the stature of the voice the greater its influence will be on the public.


David Letterman and His Smoldering Fire!

While some well respected public relations professionals say that the David Letterman-Sarah Palin episode is a good lesson in PR, both negative and positive, I think it’s a bit of a non issue. As a PR practitioner I can see where some professionals believe that David Letterman missed some steps, or crucial parts, of  issue/crisis response. But this is hardly a crisis! Maybe it is a mild issue to be dealt with quickly, but hardly a crisis!

The Crisis response steps/actions:

  1. Apology
  2. The problem has been resolved
  3. It is not going to happen again.
  4. Assurances that the problem has been fixed with corrective actions. Explain what corrective actions have been taken.

 As a PR professional the following is my take on the situation:

David Letterman does not need to do any of the above mentioned actions.  As a good gesture, David Letterman might want to mention on air that he has directed his staff not to write any more jokes of similar fashion. He might consider a short apology as well! But in doing so he might just be adding fuel to a very small fire.

This is a non issue, and definitely not a crisis. Actually, far from a crisis! I believe it will be back to business as usual rather soon. In two weeks, one month or one year, will this be an issue? Will it be remembered? I think not! Will the advertisers that say they are pulling out of his or other CBS shows stay out because “Dave” did not follow proper issue/crisis response procedures? Again, I think not!

I believe there is too much money to be made by all who rely on the David Letterman and the Late Show.  Not just advertisers, but everyone  that relies on the Late Show for their livelihood, or just a cheep laugh, all know what kind of comedian Dave is. They all know what kind of comedy is featured on the Late Show. In my opinion, and that of Dave, maybe the jokes were questionable, but not in such bad taste he had to apologies twice. He did so sincerely the first time, in true Mr. Letterman fashion.

As for Ms. Palin, apparently she has not got the lime-light bug out of her system. Any opportunity to get back in, is an opportunity she will take.

As a PR professional, if David Letterman was my client (I wish, I wish, I wish), I would advise him to keep kids, minors and young adults out of any future sexual jokes. But that is just common sense!

Social Media Press Release Definition.

While I wanted to construct, or find an already published, definition of what a social media press release is, and post it here, I have found this a very difficult task. I did however stumble upon UK made you tube video about what a social media press release is. While the video becomes quite self serving,  plugging the creators own companies,  it is so far the best explanation of what a social media press release is.