Today's LA Times story points out that PR firms were hired for competing interests in a long-running battle in CA's desert to pump, store and move water to serve urban SoCal. (Disclosure: I was on "both sides" of this issue - first representing Cadiz, then working for the Metropolitan Water District).
While this particular reporter has long made it a habit to point out when PR firms are used in water battles, as if to say "Hey, this is wrong, right?", the mention simply highlights "why" public outreach and strategic communications are a needed, must-have professional service.
This is especially true with a highly emotional and high-stakes item as water in California.
(I know - this sounds self-serving, given my firm has water clients.)
Yet, the plain truth is evident: Public support is needed for most major water issues in the West. And, the only way to get public support is....through "public" relations.
Let's face it: the world is full of information all competing for our attention. A public relations firm provides valuable services to:
- Call attention to an issue.
- Help package all the facts in a way that makes sense
- Provide answers to common questions
- Respond to allegations, charges and attacks
The common misconception is that PR firms "spin" their audiences or the issues.Wrong. The best PR firms simply make sure the facts for their client's side are presented and given proper consideration. The better term is that we "argue" on behalf of our clients - much like a lawyer would in court. The really good PR firms will even acknowledge to news reporters the "failings" or vulnerabilities of their client's side of the story because we know no one is perfect.
All in a day's work for a PR firm.