+ Inappropriate use of words
Although I appreciate David Conway’s thorough reporting in his July 18 “Preliminary city millage rate rises” article, I am disturbed by Sarasota Mayor Shannon Snyder’s characterization of public information officers as “spin doctors.”
In remarks made during the July 17 City Commission meeting regarding the reallocation of a public information officer between departments, Snyder is reported to have said, “If we’re sitting here talking about adding spin doctors, the question isn’t whether we’re going to go broke — it’s how fast.” Not only is his characterization demeaning to public relations professionals, it reinforces the mistaken negative stereotype that public relations’ role is simply to “spin” bad news (in this case, the city’s budget woes).
As a veteran public relations professional who also has worked in several universities educating future practitioners, I know the value effective public relations professionals bring to the organizations they serve.
Although the “spin doctor” term is sometimes used by individuals less familiar with the profession, I would not expect our public officials to use it and certainly not in such a public way.
Several years ago, the Public Relations Society of America (the national accrediting body for the profession) undertook an exhaustive effort to redefine public relations in a manner consistent with how it is currently practiced. When we consider the profession and the role its members play, let’s keep this definition in mind: “Public relations is a strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Hundreds of public relations professionals work tirelessly every day in our area corporations, small businesses and not-for-profit organizations, and we all benefit from their collective efforts.
+ Hiding in plain sight
I read, with interest, the article on the red-light cameras in Sarasota. I saw that the intersection of Tamiami Trail and University Parkway had, by far, the most violations. Here is one reason: As you drive north on Tamiami Trail, several tree branches completely block the left-turn signal. A friend of mine, who I know is a careful driver, got a ticket here for turning left without stopping. She had no memory of this, so, obviously she did not knowingly turn left on a red light. But on the video you can watch, she clearly went left without even slowing down. On the video, you can see that there was no southbound traffic coming on U.S. 41 and the straight ahead light was green. My friend proceeded to turn left because she never saw there was a signal for left turns only. I think that everyone who was cited for this violation might be entitled to get his or her money back.