The Missouri School of Journalism announced last week that among the recipients of its 2013 Honor Medals for Distinguished Service in Journalism would be FleishmanHillard Inc., the St. Louis-founded-and-based global public relations firm.
This is a little like the Vatican announcing that Martin Luther had been elevated to sainthood.
Which is not to say that FleishmanHillard (this spring the firm dropped the hyphen that used to separate the names of its founders and adopted, without irony, the motto “the power of true”) isn’t a fine company and good at what it does. Many of our former colleagues have found refuge there.
It’s just that journalists (including many Missouri J-School alums) find that FH’s interests and those of its corporate clients are often antithetical to theirs. Around our building, it’s commonly known as “The Great Satan.”
We kid because we love. We can only assume that there’s no one on the Journalism School faculty who ever had to call a FleishmanHillard flack on deadline with a difficult question.
Students at Mizzou’s J-School can, in fact, specialize in “strategic communications,” which is what public relations people, with their gift for obfuscation, renamed public relations. If this were a medal for Distinguished Service in Strategic Communications, it wouldn’t sting so much.
Copyright St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Reprinted with permission.