Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Brandweek takes Ruder Finn PR to task

Yesterday I wrote some yada yada comments about WSJ Health Blog's comment on PR firm Ruder Finn, and Daniel Vasella (CEO Novartis) confident, Ruder Finn CEO Kathy Bloomgarden in my post The WSJ Health Blog: Brown-Nosing CEO's?

Today I'm going to showcase another blogger, Jim Edwards from Brandweek, and his take on the same PR firm the WSJ Health Blog allowed itself to be schmozed by. Jim will show you what investigative journalism is really about in this piece:

TOP OF MIND: Is It Real, Or Is It Placed?
December 26, 2006

By Jim Edwards

Jay Leno’s Nov. 29 monologue, in which the NBC Tonight Show host riffed on the new TV ad for Delsym cough syrup, was not his best:

“This guy’s on an airplane—Hack! Hack!—he’s coughing into his hand. He looks at his hand and he sees a face on it, which starts talking to him,” Leno said. “Let me tell you something, if you look into your hand and there’s a face talking to you, the last thing you need is more cough syrup!”

Yes, it’s not very funny. But the joke was cause for celebration at Ruder Finn in New York, the PR agency for Delsym. Ruder Finn engineered the Delsym mention for Adams Therapeutics of Chester, N.J., by sending Leno a copy of the spot in hopes he would mention it. It was not a paid placement, Ruder Finn said.

Jim Edwards ends the story writing:

"Perhaps you disagree. Perhaps you think consumers aren’t stupid and can easily figure out what is and isn’t marketing. If that’s the case, why don’t you ask yourself whether this column represents my real opinion, or whether it’s just a cynical attempt to promote a panel I’m hosting on disclosure in marketing at the Association of National Advertisers’ Advertising Law conference in New York on Jan. 18?"

And just this week, Jim Edwards tried to reconnect with Ruder Finn. That didn't work out too well:

"In my story for Brandweek this week, I describe how Adams' success with Mucinex can be traced in part to what Adams CEO Mike Valentino says is the company's "lobbying" of the FDA to take its generic competitors off the market. Adams has exploited a loophole in the law that allows companies to take old, unapproved OTC generics through the FDA's NDA process. With a "new" approval in hand, the FDA then shuts down generic competition.

But the company isn't keen to talk about that success with the press, I found out last week. I called Adams creative director Stephen Graff, IR rep Janet Barth and Adams' pr firm, Ruder Finn in New York, but none of them wanted to come to the phone."

So remember, these PR firms are not on your side and no matter how much they proclaim that their clients should be "open, honest and transparent" (I took that from Ruder Finn CEO Bloomgarden's book), they don't even want to call back when they don't like the topic. Like so much at PR firms, most of it is simply PR SPIN.

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