This article was originally published in The Holmes Report's PR World.  To subscribe please contact Celeste Picco at [email protected]


Within hours of the announcement that Republican candidate John McCain had chosen Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his vice presidential running mate, I received an e-mail from a Chicago public relations firm (one with which I was not previously familiar) explaining why McCain’s unexpected choice would “pay off in November.”


The founder and chief executive of the PR firm in question speculated that: “Not only is she at home with the republican [sic] base, but as a professional woman, a wife and a mother of five, she presents a welcome image to the untethered Hilary [sic] Clinton voters…. This pick is PR genius in my opinion.”


Leaving aside the lack of an upper case R in Republican and the fact that the CEO in question, who presents himself as a “political PR expert” apparently doesn’t know how to spell Hillary Clinton’s name, this press release so perfectly encapsulates everything people think is wrong with the public relations business, the reason so many PR professionals—even the good ones—are accused of practicing spin, of elevating style over substance.


At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, the most important function of a vice presidential nominee is to serve as Vice President should the candidate in question be elected. This public relations agency press release contained not one word explaining why Sarah Palin might make a good Vice President, explaining how her vision of