What one word best describes the state of PR today?
Would you believe… Alaska?
(sorry. bad pun.)

Apparently, the ham-fisted pork-barrel antics of Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens has left the state with a reputation for being a little… piggish?

An extended tip of the ten-gallon to Tex over at Watching Washington, for keeping up with all of the links:

Governor Frank Murkowski (R-AK) wants to change America’s image of Alaska.

He’s afraid the lower 49 think of Alaska as a “freeloading frontier.” Why would we have that opinion — after the infamous “bridge to nowhere” and billions more in pork from the recent highway bill?

So the Governor has suggested the state hire a public relations firm to change Alaska’s image.

It’s nothing new to see government spending money on image and positioning. It’s especially vital in the competition for landing new industry and bolstering cash-cows like tourism.

Gov. Frank Murkowski says it is time for an image makeover. He wants the state to hire a public relations firm to change the perception of Alaska and its people as greedy for federal dollars and all too willing to plunder the environment for profit.

Ultimately, he wants to sway public opinion in favor of opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling.

Most Alaska politicians favor drilling in the refuge, which would fill the state’s coffers like the trans-Alaska oil pipeline has done for decades. But environmentalists have fought back for a quarter-century, and in December the state was thwarted again in Congress.

Would this fly as a legit expense? You have to examine both the source of the funding and the desired target of the campaign — and that’s one thing I love about Terry’s work at Watching Washington.

Wonder how long until Alaska’s Congressional delegation pay for it with federal dollars?

Alaska already got federal money for a PR film on the state’s roads and bridges. And more federal dollars to paint an airliner to promote the state’s salmon industry.

Trust me. He’s got it all documented.

Even if the PR practitioners hold to recognized professional ethical standards, there is no hard and fast rule about what passes the “taxpayer smell test.”

Taking public money to sway public opinion about the fact that you do more than just take public money… well, that’s really bringing home the bacon.