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Brody PR: No Wonder the PR Industry gets a Bad Rap

by Frank Strong

Brody PR No Wonder the PR Industry gets a Bad Rap

Today’s events reminded me of how cruel kids can be when laughing at the clumsy one who tripped over an untied shoelace while getting on the school bus.

We thought the one-to-many concept that e-mail brought us was powerful, it’s got nothing on social media. It’s not especially revealing to say as much, but the incident today made it crystal clear: check out the Twitter stream. The whole bus is laughing.

Much has been already written about the event, so I won’t belabor context. If you need to read about that you can check out this link, or this one. If that’s not enough, how about this one. (And there were more, but years later, it appears some have been deleted). 

I’m sure there will be more tomorrow, perhaps even from the PR trades. Or perhaps more will post tonight. Or even in the next few minutes. Like this one which popped as I was writing this post. And that’s what bothers me.

First, to be clear, did Brody PR demonstrate poor judgment? Yes.

Is it ironic the subject of the pitch was related to social media? Absolutely.

Should Brody PR have apologized more swiftly, more authentically, more passionately? Undoubtedly.

As a community of PR professionals can we learn from this event? Without question.

However, I am shocked…no saddened, at the zeal I’ve read from some who almost gleefully pointed out the error. Worse still, some of the bloggers are PR professionals as well…I can’t help but to think: no wonder PR as an industry has a bad reputation — we pile it on ourselves when one of our own gets down.

I’ve been in some pretty dicey situations in my life — real world life and death situations for Mom, Country and Apple Pie — and yet it’s the stuff like this that give me nightmares.

Maybe I’ll catch some flack for this post. So be it. It’s America. But I will say this: keep your chin up Beth, as the founder of Hilton Hotels is attributed as having said:

“Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don’t quit.”

Separately, a late-breaking, very public and heartfelt apology probably wouldn’t do any harm. While kids can be mean to one another, they can also very forgiving. So too, I hope, are adults.

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Photo credit:  Flickr, Elias Levy (CC BY 2.0)

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7 Responses

  1. tressalynne

    Frank, what a great post! Someone had to say this. I had the same thoughts yesterday, which is why I refrained from posting a single on Twitter about the debacle. I couldn't agree with you more that yes, it was a mistake, and yes let's learn and move on.

  2. Frank Strong, MA, MBA

    Thanks Tressa. Rough day for the PR industry. Seems to be still a lot of chatter, but I'm somewhat relieved to see a few other posts out there with a view similar to the one I've expressed here.

  3. David Spark


    I agree with you 100%. The reaction was completely uncalled for. I loved your school bus analogy. Right on target. I think you'll appreciate my post on the subject.

    Social media "gurus" and bloggers are egotistical jerks

    Also, if you want a real PR fail story, read this one. It's a two part story with a completely obtuse move at the end.

    Hey PR, bloggers are not tools to be used.

    UPDATE: Bad PR experience story. PR firm's client is obtuse.

  4. Frank Strong, MA, MBA

    By all means, Beth, please feel free. I look forward to reading your article — best of luck!


  5. Frank Strong, MA, MBA

    Congratulations Beth, and welcome! I admire your courage and willingness to make your first post in the face of tough criticism.

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