Dylan Thomas Lawsuit, and
Ethics in Public Relations

Dear Ralph,

I know that this is about an old article, but if you guys could help me, that would be great. I thought that you're review on Marya Hornbacher's memoir Wasted was very interesting. Actually, I'm doing a huge research project on Marya Hornbacher, and was wondering if you guys would mind if I quoted from your review in my paper.

All I'm asking for is your permission, and if you can provide it, the name of the person who wrote the review so that I can cite the article correctly. Thank you for your time.

--- Katie H.

Dear Katie:

Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia was originally reviewed by the then editor of RALPH, R. R. Doister. You are welcome to quote from it. It appears at

and has generated more mail than any other review published in RALPH, although our discussion of poetry in a review of a book by Caroline Bird may well be its equal.

--- Lolita Lark,

§     §     §

Hello RALPH!

I have just discovered your magazine online and enjoy it very much. I found it through a Google search on the topic of PR and immediately loved it. Though you would have to ask why someone in PR would love RALPH after reading a critique on Confessions of a PR Man, my answer is simple.

PR needs to be more than a propagandist persuader but a philosophical social conscience of business.

I teach this corporate philosophy urging transparency and philosophical understanding behind the bottom line. So many companies are soulless institutions, which neither it nor its management accepts as its own responsibility, it is time to bring accountability through the public voice.

Your magazine is a breath of fresh air to me in Poland. I cannot pay a subscription, yet, but I very much enjoyed the snippits I have read.

I look forward to reading more. Keep the aspidistra flying!

--- R. Whipple
Yabba Dabba

Dear R. Whipple:

Thanks for your letter on Confessions of a P R Man by Robert Wood. It can be found at

We include the complete text below.

--- Lolita Lark,

Confessions of
A PR Man
Robert J. Wood
We once had this vision of the PR man hired on in 1938 to explain to the denizens of the city of Auschwitz why they were going to have all this ugly construction work going on in their neighborhood. "Don't worry," he says, speaking before the regular monthly luncheon meeting of the Auschwitz Chamber of Commerce, "We're going to bring in over six million marks in local construction --- carpentry, cement, wiring, fencing, and towers. Add 1,000 guards, officers, and clerical help on the permanent labor force. We're talkin' jobs." And the members of the Auschwitz Better Business Bureau look around and nod their heads and vote to give backing to this newest project as they think of the Deutschmarks pouring in.

Now, we'd be the last to make any parallels between this and the various works of Robert J. Wood with his Byoir PR firm over the last thirty years --- but he does lay some unlikely strutting on us in this roman à thèse. Northeast Utilities wants to build a nuclear plant, and the neighbors don't dig it. Turn it over to Woods. He proves to those nervous nellies that radiation is no worse than slutswool under the bed; soon enough everyone wants their own nuclear plant there next to the backyard barbecue.

An "atomic radiation center" scheduled for construction by CIT Corp in Ohio? No prob, babe. Woods has these heavy-weight friends on the AEC, they'll pull some strings --- the radiation center gets built, and the citizens just love it. That bastard Jesse Jackson giving you a fit at the A & P, with his Operation Breadbasket? No worry, sweets --- a few meetings with some friendly newspaper folks, a couple of arrests (complaints signed by a front man, not the Atlantic & Pacific), executives never at home when those cats come calling --- and ol' A & P is out of the woods.

Finally, there's that Hyatt Regency in Kansas City, you remember, the one owned by Hallmark Cards, the one where the suspended walkway collapses, killing a hundred people, injuring two hundred more. Bad press for Hallmark? Not to worry: Woods is on the job. When the carping critics start in on the sin of cheap construction and corporate profits, we take it right on the chin:

I assigned a Byoir staffer to work in Kansas City full time, dealing with the daily PR problems that kept cropping up as a result of the investigations, the lawsuits, and related matters. These were mostly minor matters. Mostly minor.

Got a problem with death, dismemberment, crippled-for-life, personal trauma, physical ruination. No prob. Just call on Woods, the PR man's PR man. He'll take care of anything and everything. For no more than a little blood money.

--- R. R. Doister

§     §     §


Dear Sir/ Madam,

It has come to our attention that your site has hotlinked an image from

The offending page of your site can be found at

Your hotlinking of this image has contravened the copyrightof the image, which currently invokes a standard fee of 40. More crucially, it has stolen bandwidth which is paid for by us.

We are currently giving you a 48 hour window in which you can pay the copyright reproduction fee of 40.

If we have not heard from you concerning this matter within that period we will have to take legal action which will incur further costs upon yourself plus a further fee for bandwidth stealing.

To settle this matter immediately, you can make a payment via the paypal symbol at the bottom site --- a sister sight. The image has now been disabled but the link itself should also be removed within this time frame.

I look forward to hearing from you on this matter.

--- Mr. C J Elphick

Dear Mr. Elphick:

It is with dismay that we learn that your Dylan Thomas is copyrighted. As soon as we received your e-mail we deleted the offending picture from the offending review.

As for paying damages, we throw ourselves on your mercies. Ours is a small publication owned by a non-profit corporation. Our reviewers work for free. Our layout is done by volunteers, some of whom, as you are now aware, are unfamiliar with the extremely complicated world of international copyright laws.

Forty pounds, at the current rate of exchange, represents almost three months of our operating budget. We would assume that you would not wish to lead us into financial mayhem or worse, and thus we ask that you accept our apologies with indulgence, with our promise to never again use any of your art-work in any of our reviews never ever again.

As you no doubt recall, Thomas himself was a generous soul --- some say perhaps too generous --- and I know he would want that you might show us the same charity with which he rewarded his many friends.

--- Yours in rue,
Lolita Lark

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