Sharpton’s Media Maven Takes an Ill-Advised Bow

by Robert Pondiscio
December 7th, 2009

It’s PR 101 that publicists should be seen and not heard.  And not even seen.  Feast your eyes, then, on this curious piece in the New York Daily News about Al Sharpton’s “media adviser” Rachel Noerdlinger. 

Sharpton’s leadership role in the Education Equality Project has given pause to some who would otherwise be expected to support its strong accountability positions and efforts to close the achievement gap.  Fordham’s Checker Finn, most notably, described Sharpton as “one of America’s more unlovable figures, whose fingerprints can be found on an appalling list of divisive, racist, anti-Semitic, violent, and often bloody episodes over the past quarter century.”

The piece details the low-profile Noerdlinger’s work in helping “the oft-reviled Sharpton adopt a more mainstream image–witness his current national tour with former GOP Congressman Newt Gingrich in support of better education policies.”   What comes out of Noerdlinger’s mouth is eyebrow-raising:

Every day we see more acceptance of Rev. Sharpton by mainstream media, who used to see him as being opportunistic. Now he’s not as reactive. What we do now is much more strategic. We really think about what we’re doing before we do it now, because we impact so many people. I’d like to think I had something to do with that, but again, you can’t take credit for Rev. Sharpton. I like to think I am part of a well-oiled machine.”

So  is Sharpton pushing EEP because his heart is in the “new civil rights struggle” or because he’s cynically trying to “adopt a more mainstream image?”   If you want to change people’s perception, you change your act not your strategy.  People who were inclined to be skeptical about Sharpton will only be more so after reading this. 

Here’s another PR bromide:  Some of the best stories are the ones that never get written.  This should have been one of them.

1 Comment »

  1. Very interesting, indeed. These days, it’s getting more and more difficult to figure out where conviction ends and PR savvy begins–though the two can certainly overlap.

    Another story never told. Newt Gingrich has given several interviews recently in which he describes public schools as “hostile” to Christianity. A bit of a shrill oversimplification, that. But few people following EEP know he’s been grinding that particular axe.

    Comment by Claus — December 7, 2009 @ 11:39 pm

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