Sorry. I’ve been reading PR Week again.
I know I shouldn’t, and there’s nothing to be gained, and that if I continue to do it, I’ll end up as a bearded, wild-eyed, string-shoelaced, shambling apparition, destined to ride on the Circle Line forever, muttering ‘buggrit, buggrem, I told ’em it weren’t right, ‘advertising value equivalent’, they says to me, buggrit, what, says I, I do, it means nothing, shrimp and spanners, buggrem’.
Anyway, PR Week. It makes me cross. Sometimes it makes me REALLY cross. It is distinctly possible that I shouldn’t take it so seriously. It is even possible that the magazine is staffed by a bunch of post-modern ironists who are so clever, so sharp, that what, on the surface, can appear inane drivel is, in fact, the most telling commentary and satire, but so finely-honed that its real message is hidden from all but an enlightened few. Right.
This week, the thing that’s made me cross is one of the biggest issues facing our industry. I’m assuming I’m right in saying this because it’s certainly something that better minds that mine have been discussing since I first sat in a chair and made a weak attempt at trying to interest a journalist in the ‘news’ of a revolutionary hair removal system. (Don’t ask.)
It’s the issue of why isn’t PR taken seriously? Why doesn’t PR have (very often) a seat at the top table? Why, when PR is described as a ‘profession’ is there always an echoing of sniggering in the background? (Even when there’s no-one there.) Why is PR described as ‘lightweight’ and ‘fluffy’ – and why do people believe that it is? Why is PR not seen as a ‘proper job’? Why is it, at worst, ignored and at best, barely tolerated?
(And before anyone starts, you know this is, in the main, true. Yes, there are some organisations where PR is given the respect it should command – but they are few and far between.)
There are many possible answers – and maybe I’ll come back to them. Today, let’s concentrate on one of the biggest culprits – in fact a load of the biggest culprits – us – the industry itself. How is anyone going to take PR seriously if we persist in perpetuating the myths and prancing around like a bunch of knobs.
Yes, we don’t all do it. In fact, I’d imagine, very few of us do it. But. But. And this is why PR Week makes me cross this week. You see, according to the rules of communication, it only takes one incident to ruin the reputation of the industry. Especially if that incident is kindly emblazoned in the pages of what purports to be the voice of the industry. So, this week, step foward Deborah Clark Associates ‘celebrating the launch of the ‘Cornwall Twestival” – what were you thinking of?
I’m not going to link to the picture here. Suffice it say it smacks of ill-conceived sixth-form amateur dramatics. It was lightweight AND it was fluffy. But, ignoring for the moment the obvious question of what possessed these people to do this in the first place, the other obvious question is what in the name of all that’s holy were PR Week thinking of when they decided to print it?
It’s tough times for PR. We all know that. But with friends like PR Week, who needs enemies?