That’s how Exxon Mobil referred to Alaskan beaches during the Valdez spill.

It’s a beautiful example of PR spin:  It’s propaganda by the redefinition of words.

For example, in the recent Wired article, we learned that Claria worked hard to re-cast the word “spyware” into the more comfortable “adware”.

Next Claria went to work replacing the pejorative word spyware with the more business-friendly adware. The adware model was already an accepted way for software companies to support otherwise free products – the free version of the Eudora email program, for instance, displays ads in a small window that can’t be closed while the program is in use. Claria execs argued that eWallet was no different. Moreover, they policed the distinction with diligence: Anyone who called the company’s products spyware risked a lawsuit.

Now, 180Solutions is working hard to recast spyawre fighters as “zealot”. 

This is actually fairly routine block-and-tackling type PR, showing the hidden hand of PR professional Sean Sundwall, the ex-Microsoft flack who went to work for 180.  He’s good and although I may not agree with it, I do respect his work.  It’s the work of a professional. 

You see, this recasting allows 180 to marginalize statements made against them by saying “oh, he’s just a zealot”.

I know I am on their PR radar screen because they are now referring to me as a zealot.  From today’s BetaNews, quote by Sean himself:

“Should they be skewered as well? I ask these questions because the mainstream media seem to write everything zealot like Alex say without asking basic questions,” Sundwall told BetaNews.

I am rather flattered, actually. 

But there’s the core definition of PR that one must never forget:  Good works well publicized.

Alex Eckelberry
(Thanks Nate)