Blame PR?

In general, if you find yourself arguing that you are not getting what you want and then say that you aren’t getting what you want because you “don’t have as good spin doctors” as the other side does, well, you are scraping the bottom of the barrel in the argument department.

To whit, in today’s NYT is a story about water rights, and how Atlanta recently lost a pretty big court case against its neighbors. Now, water rights and water in general are going to pop up more and more as the focal point for state/national/city arguments, so this is one to watch. Lots of issues, but apparently PR is one of them. So sez Atlanta:

“The only motivation is political,” Charles Krautler, the director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, said of the fight. “We don’t have as good of spin doctors as they do. It’s easy to point the finger at big bad Atlanta.”

And then later in the story, it turns out that Atlanta *has* been investing in PR:

Atlanta has responded with a major public relations offensive, painting the city as a good steward that has carried out a water plan, treats its sewage until it is drinkable and, during the recent drought, put conservation measures in place when downstream users did not. (Environmentalists concede these points but say that they are half-hearted at best and that the metropolitan area could save millions of gallons through more aggressive conservation.)

Having read about this dispute in a few different publications over the last year, I’m pretty sure that PR is not at the center of the problem set. Atlanta lost the case on the facts, and because they made a bet some 20 years ago that they have now lost. That’s not a PR issue, that’s a reality issue. If I were advising them now, I’d say look at the facts and change the tone and manner of the debate and look for a way to compromise – saying you’ll “fight to the death” as the Georgia gov did is not generally a good way to get what you want.

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