Friday, February 6, 2009

The CDC and PR

photo by Jessie McClain
"Image is everything." This is the PR mantra: say it over and over again while placing your dollars into the incense burner, lite the match and watch your money burn. The world has become the playground of our image controllers. We don't have to think, we can just let these men and women paint our world. Although maybe we are all being painted into a corner. Richard W. Edelman, president and CEO of Edleman, a public relations agency(whose accounts include Wal-Mart, Microsoft, etc) is quoted in "Idea Grove," a media blog, "It used to be I would schmooze you and I was your flack." Today, if we want to get a message into the public's conversation, we just make a post on a blog." Richard W. Edelman is also the director of Merit Medical Systems. He is also on the Board of Directors to the CDC Foundation. The CDC Foundation is an "independent, nonprofit organization established by Congress, that offers individuals and organizations a powerful way to participate in CDC's mission."
Viewing the website of the CDC Foundation, what is seen is a long list of pharmaceutical companies that donate to the Foundation: Merck, Wyeth, Bristol Myers Squibb (also a infant formula company), OraSure (hiv rapid test kit company) to name just a few. Of course they are not donating to the CDC, which would not be right. They donate to the Foundation, which is a way to be a part of the CDC mission in public health. Many big companies have foundations, so why not the CDC? Edelman isn't the only PR company on the CDC Foundation Board--also Bob Jeffery, chairman and CEO of J. Walter Thompson, a global advertising firm.
It would seem that the CDC feels it has an image problem or maybe they were persuaded that they had an image problem. How does one fix an "image" problem? Spend money on some good PR--like blogs. So they fund various professors in universities to "speak out" against those who dare to question the CDC's mission. And what is their mission? Some might suggest that their mission seems to be about medical testing (universal hiv testing), more vaccinations, more drugs and no questions asked. Anyone who dares question this endeavor is met with a barrage of ridicule and contempt from seemingly unbiased blogs written by well-educated psychologists or psychiatrists. Surprise, surprise, surprise. They aren't so unbiased, they are being funded by the CDC, who feels the need to control their image. Remember the words of Richard W. Edelman, "P.R. plays much better in a world that lacks trust."
Copyright 2009 Valerie W. McClain