Inspiring Media and PR Quotes: Ze’ev Jabotinsky, Michael Wolff and Malcolm X on Power and Truth
By Ronn Torossian, President and CEO, 5WPR
I am always inspired by quotes, and I found the following quotes to be exciting and inspiring for PR folks, and thought others would too:
THE POWER OF THE PRESS
Ze’ev Jabotinsky, a great Jewish leader had the following great quote in 1932:
“A newspaper is a grand thing. There is no labor of higher worth than that of the journalist, whether he writes instructional articles or reports on a robbery that took place yesterday in the slums. Like the function of the blood circulating through the body, or like the function of commerce in the international market, so is the function of journalism in the realm of the spirit…Who were the first to teach us to always interfere in matters that are not ours, to judge people and nations, even though we were never chosen for the position of judge? The work of the publicist is a legacy from the Prophets of Israel…Our passion is to speak, to proclaim—“Shouting” is what the same audience calls it, ‘we have no need for words, give us actions.’ One thing that audience forgets is that speech is also an action – Perhaps the most authentic of all other actions. Cities have been destroyed, and more will fall, but what was shouted in the wilderness thousands of years ago is alive and still relevant. The world was created by the Word. The world will be mended by the Article.”
Why this quote matters: Ze’ev Jabotinsky was a journalist who published many articles and books, and as much as soldiers create history, those who document or publicize what occurs survive long beyond those events. Words are powerful, hence journalists, as Jabotinsky states, are like judges. Similarly, as Jabotinsky said 80 years ago, publicists’ words create actions.
THE POWER OF PR
Noted international journalist John Vincour once offered this great quote about the influence and impact of public relations:
“The public relations warriors fought and lost Monte Carlo’s Battle of the Magazine Covers.”
Why this quote matters: All over the world, including Monte Carlo, one of the world’s most glamorous cities, public relations folks engage and battle with media – for tone of an article, coverage and inclusion. I like that Vinocur, a long-time International Herald Tribune reporter refers to warriors. The dictionary meaning of “warrior” is “one who is engaged in or experienced in battle,” and “one who is engaged aggressively or energetically in an activity, cause, or conflict.” Those of us in the Public Relations industry who are passionate about our clients are constantly battling for them. I concur … we are warriors.
FOR GOOD OR FOR ILL
The legendary Malcolm X was powerful in his passion and his words moved many. Here’s what he had to say about the press:
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.”
Why this quote matters: It’s self-explanatory, as the legendary Malcolm X said, that the media controls minds by way of its influence and ability to reach people. It has the power to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent, and it has the power to shape political elections or help (or hurt) companies. As such, the media also has agendas and wields its power to meet those agendas.
A BLENDED SKILL
Michael Wolff, writing in Vanity Fair, had this to say about those in PR he terms “publicity geniuses”:
“Publicity geniuses are different from you and me. They have the stomach for it. This temperamental combination of imperviousness and egomania that allows them, compels them, to dominate the media . . . means, too, that they dominate reality, that’s their world and we just . . . well you know.”
Why this quote matters: To win in the PR world, I agree that “Public Relations geniuses” have to be different. That is why I have said before that, “public relations is a combination of journalism, psychology and law related skills.”
Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the rapid growth and expansion of the PR agency to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. He blogs here, and is author of “For Immediate Release.”