"I don't think there's any real connection there," he said.
Environmentalists, too, say PR has its limits. Bob Deans, spokesman for the National Resources Defense Council, said businesses are doing a better job showing that they are better stewards of rivers, streams and other resources.
But the BP oil spill was an environmental and public relations disaster, he said.
"You couldn't whitewash the fact that the spill impacted wildlife tragically," Deans said.
Argenti said business executives also face an angry public because of problems beyond their reach such as the state of the economy. The downturn that started with the Great Recession in late 2007 and the weak recovery that followed have soured Americans on private enterprise, he said.
Bethany Kraft, deputy director of the Gulf Restoration Program for Ocean Conservancy, an environmental group, said public relations is effective when a company demonstrates it's fixing a problem.
"PR becomes a problem when it's clear a good image is more important than making things right," she said.
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