Monday, June 30, 2008

Coffeehouse coverage

I was happy to see the GR Press cover an actual WMPRSA event in last Friday's paper.

It was a good review of why and how Beaners Coffee changed their name to Biggby, to proactively avoid offending Hispanic consumers in other parts of the country, for whom "Beaners" is an insulting term, before the Michigan company expanded across country.

(I refrain from commenting at this juncture on the potential offenses of monikers such as Cracker Barrel and the Hope College Flying Dutchmen).

My only problem with the article was the brief mention that it was a WMPRSA event, and virtually no explicit coverage or comments about why this is a PUBLIC RELATIONS story. It implies that management was enlightened and hired a PR firm merely to get the word out. In reality, the management exhibited good public relations in the sense of identifying an overlooked public and potential issue, and then the company changed its own behavior instead of trying to influence attitudes and behaviors of others. It worked at the essence of PR: mutually beneficial relationships.

That was implied and perhaps obvious to PR people. But to the mass readership of the Press, it would have been nice to make this plain. Instead, public perception will continue to be as follows: when management makes good decisions it is good management; when management makes bad decisions its called a PR problem. Our profession does react to the negative, but quite often we also are proactively positive. Much of the public--and management--does not get this connection to PR.


Derek said...

The story was posted online in the GR Press's blog (I didn't see the print version so they may have changed the title and made it more difficult to find):

Tim Penning, APR said...

Thanks Derek. The story is the same as in print. I've noticed this before on other Booth papers on MLive--the url of a print story says "blog" and the byline reads "posted by." MLive navigation is lousy generally, but you'd think they could clearly delineate between reporting and blogs, the latter which come from "Web log" of course and imply editorial commentary vs objective reporting.

Bob Fish said...

You make a great and thoughtful point.


Tim Penning, APR said...

Thanks for reading and commenting Bob. I'll think well of you when I enjoy a Nutty Buddy later today.