Is PR the Only Way to Make a Big Difference?
I was honestly excited when I read about Eli Broad and Bill Gates' new $60MM campaign: Strong American Schools designed to thrust Education to the top of the 2008 presidential campaign agenda with advertising, on-line community and volunteerism. How can you not be excited about two of the country's largest education funders collaborating? What's not to celebrate about a home-front issue getting some focus?
Well, to be frank, a few things. First, there's the quote by Eli Broad: "I have reached the conclusion as has the Gates foundation...that all we're doing is incremental." Let's remember for a moment that these two organizations dwarf the investments of nearly everyone working to improve the quality of education in this country. If their investments are "incremental" what does that imply about the magnitude of effort needed to have any impact? Second, the $60MM is coming from their respective foundations. Hmmmm. $60MM in PR. Could it be that this is "awareness building" on a whole new level? I wonder what the impact metrics are...
In the end, I agree with the spirit here, that it will take a movement, a groundswell, to really revolutionize education. But can PR really be philanthropy?