Also in today’s Times, advertising columnist Stuart Elliott reports on Merck’s first corporate ad campaign in its 114-year history. As you all know, the company’s sudden withdrawal of popular pain (and alleged people) killer Vioxx has given this once reputationally esteemed pharmaceutical giant its share of PR, legal, and financial headaches.
PR can do only so much given that its primary channel for reaching key constituencies — the news media — filters the delivery of a company’s message. If that message does not resonate sufficiently in the so-called “free media,” then reputation managers will seek a different reputational therapy through paid advertising. Hence, there are those in our industry who include image and institutional advertising as useful (but more expensive) tools in the PR toolbox.