Ketchum, Williams, Rosen and the wood shed

Jay Rosen has rightly taken the PR blogging community to the wood shed for our (relative) lack of commentary on the Williams/Ketchum contract. Many PR bloggers DID comment on the controversy - even those of us who do not work or live in the United States. Nonetheless, we can be critcized for not feeding this important debate on PR ethics at the speed or volume expected by most inhabitants of the blogosphere.

Not that we're dealing with an isolated case. As Jeremy pointed out, the industry seems to be backsliding when it comes to transparency and ethical behaviour.

Public relations has long harboured underhanded operatives and unscrupulous tactics: the only way to demonstrate our commitment to open, honest and two-way communication is with the unstinting and outspoken leadership of prominent professionals, firms and associations (maybe even bloggers!) in the industry.

Neville Hobson, among others, hit the nail on the head when he asked where our professional associations have been hiding during this ethical imbroglio.

Several bloggers have suggested the associations' low-key reaction may be a defensive tactic, designed to preserve their relationship with prominent members and sponsors.

If so, what is the worth of their codes of ethics? Are they just another page in a boring membership package, or a laminated plaque for the firm's lunch room?

But why was the PR blogging community so subdued in its reaction? Why didn't a feeding frenzy of debate and recrimination erupt, as in other parts of the blogosphere, building and tearing down arguments by the minute?

This, I think, reflect the differing motivations of the global PR blogger community: as Steve and Jeremy point out, we have individual areas of interest and concentration, and we don't necessarily jump on the issue of the day when writing for our blogs.

Of course, our collective reaction could simply reflect natural aversion of all PR pros to becoming part of the story.

And that would be a shame.