Council Says It Will Consider Actions on Nike Lawsuit
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Council Says It Will Consider Actions on Nike Lawsuit

Two weeks after the California Supreme Court ruled that Nike press releases owere not protected by the First Amendment, the Council of Public Relations Firms promised to “review appropriate actions” in response to the ruling.

Paul Holmes

NEW YORK, May 27—Two weeks after the California Supreme Court ruled that Nike press releases on the issue of labor rights in developing countries were not protected by the First Amendment, the Council of Public Relations Firms became the first leading public relations association to comment on the case, promising to “review appropriate actions” in response to the ruling.
 
The case involved a lawsuit by an activist who claimed Nike’s public statements on the labor controversy were covered by California’s false advertising statutes because they were commercial speech rather than political speech. Commercial speech does not receive the same constitutional protection as political speech.
 
The ruling troubles many corporate public relations practitioners because it holds their statements to a higher standard than those of their critics, who are generally not commercial entities.
 
In a statement, the Council said, “Public relations firms have stressed for years that their work has an impact on the bottom line. So when the California Supreme Court recently ruled that companies can be sued for making public statements that later prove to be false, the Council of Public Relations Firms realized the ramifications for the public relations industry could be huge.
 
The Council’s government relations committee, headed by Margery Kraus, president and CEO of APCO Worldwide, is reviewing appropriate actions to take on behalf of this issue. Council board member Ron Rogers, CEO of Rogers & Associates in Los Angeles, is also on the committee. 
 
“We represent an industry that advocates freedom of speech and we want our support to be visible, said Kathy Cripps, president of the Council of Public Relations Firms.
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