Can we rescue the image of PR? This is a serious question, no really it is. Public Relations as an industry has suffered from an image or reputation problem for a long time and much of this is self-inflicted. It is easy to see why the wider public would look with scepticism at PR from time to time, especially when you see some of the work produced and some of those producing it.
In the UK you have the likes of Max Clifford, crisis manager to the stars. He’s the man called in when you have been a naughty boy or a silly girl. Max and his like will arrive and tell your side of the story, whatever that needs to be, and will work the angles to spread the fallout as thinly as possible and get you back on track and earning as soon as. Now don’t get me wrong, in a time where ‘celebrity’ is a commodity the world needs its Max Clifford’s, remember it is us the public who buy the red tops and the magazines that feed the frenzy.
We have this in Ireland too. A story from my home town of Cork is a perfect example; a local radio jock was caught doing something he shouldn’t on a plane and before you know it he was blaming his behaviour on an over the counter pain killer. This may well have been the case but it shows that we have allowed ‘spin’ rule over responsibility and this is why people have a poor impression of the whole PR industry.
If you break it down what is ‘PR’? It should be the public’s relationship with you, your brand or your business, it is a marketing tool and an element of the wider sales package you employ to achieve success at whatever it is you do. PR is a very important element of your tool box and should not be underestimated but as an industry we have a lot of work to do to ensure that it is not. In an age where truth is an ever decreasing commodity it is the responsibility of those with the skills in and access to the mediums of communication to step up and lead the charge.
So back to the question, can we rescue the image of PR? I say ‘Yes We Can’ (thanks Barack) but it will need a sea-change in thinking from within PR. If professionals are organising a photo-shoot to launch a product don’t be lazy and throw in a few scantily clad models that in most cases have no relationship with the product or brand. If you are looking after a client who has made a boo boo then get them to take responsibility and the subsequent consequences, believe me the will come back a stronger brand for it. If you don’t believe me look at the Tylenol V Perrier example.
So if you are a student or a practitioner start the fight back and let’s all step up and raise the bar in PR delivery and let’s get the Public’s Relationship with us back on track. (Wow that’s a lot of cliché’s #wafflewatch)…