Will Networks Try To PR Themselves Out Of Bad Economic News?

With recession firmly at hand -- like a slacker cousin looking for long-term housing in the form of your living room couch -- expect more spin from the best  public relations execs have to offer.

Deadline Hollywood Daily tells us that while legions of NBC staffers are being cut, the public relations department will be spared. NBC Universal is supposedly building up the ranks of its flackdom -- all with the intent of keeping journalists and columnist confused and maybe cowering.

The poor economy is one reason. But another is the changing press landscape, with old-line consumer and business print publications on the wane, and more TV industry blogs and columns -- like yours truly -- looking to explain TV business schemes.

In economic hard times, the digital business press and bloggers come in handy. We should all be amping up even more perspective on the news -- giving thumbs-up, or mostly down, on our favorite TV networks.



From my own perspective, NBC Universal has done a good job in selling the story that it isn't about its fourth-place in the ratings, it's about its cable channels that are pulling the revenue and profitability train these days.

Then there was NBC this past summer -- which didn't need any spin. The network got some lightning-in-the-bottle stuff with out-of-the-blue great ratings from the Beijing Olympics.

For all this, I'm buying.

But -- just so we are clear -- we'll always have some pressing questions that fester. For example, why are NBC's biggest program franchises wasting by the roadside?

And what happened to those "30 Rock" ratings, which have resumed their lower position now that Tiny Fey's marketing blitz of last year is well into its afterglow? Did I forget to mention "Knight Rider's" ho-hum rating performance? How about "Kath & Kim"?

Sure, you can easily pick on any network's shortcomings. But I figure it's best to mention it here, just in case some PR people show up at my door ready to do battle -- or angle for a cat nap on my couch.

1 comment about "Will Networks Try To PR Themselves Out Of Bad Economic News? ".
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  1. Bob Batchelor from Cultural Historian and Writer, February 26, 2009 at 12:51 p.m.

    Hi Wayne. Historically, the PR and communications departments have been cut during difficult economic times, but that doesn't mean it's a smart business practice. Having a group around to educate journalists and the general public makes good sense in times like these.

    You are a case study that proves this point. On one hand, you claim that NBC Universal PR staffers ("all with the intent") want to keep journalists "confused and maybe cowering." Yet, you admit the company has done a "good job in selling the story" and "I'm buying."

    In your estimation, is it really just about PR practitioners spinning? From another viewpoint, it seems as if NBC's PR staff is telling the company's story, which they are paid to do, basically advocating their point of view. How does this equate to "keeping journalists and columnist[s] confused and maybe cowering?"

    From a wider perspective, isn't this "traditional" view of PR and journalism fighting a bit outdated? The two professions need one another. One group needs information, while the other dispenses it. They may not always agree on how that content should be used, but it is vastly more complicated than a mere "us vs. them" mentality.

    Bob Batchelor

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