Those Shameful PR People

I learned yesterday who is to blame for the latest shameful episode on Wall Street. You know — the one where the Wizards are giving each other billions in year-end bonuses even though they crashed the world’s economy. It’s the PR people, stupid.

Yep. I heard that while on a conference call yesterday with some people from a variety of nonprofit organizations in DC. The call was about a totally unrelated subject. But like most — in business, education, government, nonprofits, whatever — the “meeting” meandered like the Snake River. Finally it made its way to Wall Street. And someone opined: “Where are the PR people. They should be stepping up and telling their management not to do those things. Don’t they know how bad it looks?”

Wow. If it were only that easy wouldn’t this be a great country. Here’s how I envision the beginning of the conversation in one of the corner offices on Wall Street.

PR Guy/Gal: “Ah, gee Mr. Thain. I don’t think you should spend $14,000 on a commode since you’ve flushed the economy down the drain.”

Mr. T: “Well, thank you Mr/Ms PR Guy/Gal, you’re right. I’ll give all of my current pay, savings, stock options and restricted stock grants to the food bank instead.”

The crisis in trust and confidence that is killing our economy doesn’t have anything to do with PR people. It has everything to do with the fact that we have a tremendous number of people in leadership positions in this country that know exactly what they are doing — and don’t care. They have no responsibility and display no ethical conduct.

Here’s where Barack Obama has it absolutely right. It’s shameful. And somehow we have to return to an era of civility — and responsibility.

The problem here is that the Wizards don’t listen either. And there are on penalties attached to actions that are not responsible and not in the public interest. Sen. Christopher Dodd, head of the Senate Banking Committee, says, as reported in The Washington Post, that he’ll bring before his committee any Wall Street executives who take big bonuses after their firms are propped up with public money. Oh boy. That will scare them. Note to Wizards: Leave the company plane at home.

Oh well, the era of responsibility still has a way to go. And maybe if the Wizards of Wall Street and others in organizations big and small would listen to PR people it would help.

And I was going to write about Rod Blagojevich. But no real point. Anyone know when the swearing out ceremony will be? As I understand it he hired a PR firm last week or the week before to help him tell his story nationally and reshape his image. Wonder if the PR plan had as a goal to get even one favorable vote in the Illinois senate? Wow. A shutout: 59-0.

So this being Friday, I have to finish my list of 25 personal items for Facebook. I started yesterday. But then I got distracted by reading my friend Bill Sledzik’s post on this Facebook list on his blog, ToughSledding.

I’m back and working on my list now. Here goes:

5. Go Steelers! 6. Go Steelers! 7. Go Steelers! 8. And so on.


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