* Re "Schools Hitting Hard Times? Relax and Pass the Popcorn," by Dana Parsons (Nov. 29). Thank you for your important [column]. Unfortunately, a lot of parents do not know that we only needed one more legislator to support putting the bond measure on the ballot in March. In fact, all of the Orange County legislators abstained from supporting the bond measure unless the prison bond measure was supported.
In San Clemente, we have a terrible population problem. We have an elementary school filled to capacity, with proposed development of 1,700 additional homes. In addition, five elementary schools in the area feed into only one middle school, which has only two grade levels with a total population of 1,000. Many classes have 40 students, while a proposed middle-school site sits empty for five years for lack of state funding.
Fortunately, the school bond measure will be reconsidered in early January. So for those people that favor schools over prisons, I urge you as a parent or concerned political participant to write your local legislators to see if we can get legislative support for the measure on the March ballot.
DEBRA S. COVEN
* Duck! It's open season on [public relations] practitioners again. Dana Parsons' Nov. 26 piece, "From the Friendly Skies, a Career Challenge for PR Flacks," was the latest snipe.
Parsons offers the reader a case study of a public relations crisis and his try at a prepared statement for the media. His statement, when compared with "the truth," implies that PR professionals would concoct an elaborate lie in defense of their client.
As a public relations practitioner, allow me to provide a view from the inside. Any prepared statement is the collaborative effort of a PR pro, legal counsel and the client, at a minimum. If the final statement mostly reflects litigious concerns, as Parsons' does, then blaming the PR practitioner is akin to shooting the messenger.
A PR pro's first step would be to research thoroughly the facts of the crisis. If the client appeared to be guilty of the charges filed against him, the pro would recommend a statement along the lines of "I'm sorry, I made a mistake, I won't do it again and, though it will never make up for the harm I have caused, here's how I'll make it up to the victims." Hugh Grant received PR industry praise for handling the aftermath of his night with a prostitute in this way.
If the client had been wrongly accused, the practitioner would seek out evidence to convince the media of the initial report's falseness. Pepsi's use of videotape to demonstrate that a syringe could not be inserted into their cans during manufacturing exemplifies this approach.
This reckless attack on the PR profession by Parsons causes great pain: deterring good students from entering the field, embarrassing pros in front of their friends and family, and reducing their value in the minds of bosses and clients. Before Parsons launches his next attack, I hope that he will contact the Public Relations Society of America to learn about an honorable profession that he has yet to understand.