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Great Moments in Washington PR

The people who got the Olympics for China get their due.

11:01 PM, Feb 25, 2002 • By RICHARD STARR
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EVERY SO OFTEN the public relations industry plaintively wonders why journalists hold it in contempt. Well, it's because the feeling is mutual. They're in the business of using us. It's often a satisfactory professional transaction, but respect rarely enters into the equation. Plus, we have different concepts of success. Our triumphs, we flatter ourselves, involve truth (or at least comeuppance). Theirs are triumphs of manipulation.

Witness the PR Campaign of the Year as awarded by PRWeek to the powerhouse firm of Weber Shandwick Worldwide for its work getting the 2008 Olympics awarded to Beijing. You have to be a subscriber to read the story online, but happily (they are good at this business, after all) WSW has been e-mailing around facsimiles of the story, which you can read here.

It mostly speaks for itself. We wish there had been a little more detail--for instance, was the aborted plan to play volleyball in Tiananmen square the client's idea? And how did WSW talk them down from that ledge?--but it's hard to deny that this was a great moment for the public relations industry.

And there's some real business genius here that doesn't even get mentioned in the citation. By helping to secure the Olympics for the capital of the world's last great Communist despotism, one practically guarantees a huge demand for PR services by Beijing for at least the next six years.

Richard Starr is a managing editor at The Weekly Standard.