PR Week – With Friends Like These………..

Another week (PR Week, in fact) another nail in the industry’s coffin. OK, it’s more of a thumbtack, really, but the fact is that it’s being pushed inexorably into the pine by the very publication that should be levering the nails out. PR Week describes itself as ‘the industry’s bible’ (stop sniggering at the back, Communicator Minor!) and yet, every week, without fail, it appears to do its level best to suck value out of the industry and hack away at those vestiges of corporate reputation that may remain to it.

A couple of things I’ve said before, and, just to be quite clear, I’ll say them again. As the ‘industry’s bible’ (Matron! The side-stapler!) surely PR Week should be filling its pages with stuff that is both interesting and useful – it should be promoting best practice, nurturing talent and supporting industry education. It should also be aware of the responsibility that comes with being the ‘industry’s bible’ (no, no, stop, please) – a responsibility to portray our profession in the best possible light because, despite its best attempts, people read it. And sometimes – I have to assume – they are people outside of the industry, whose opinions of our profession might actually matter.

So this week (issue dated December 4 2009, probably still on sale somewhere for £7.23, which I believe is this issue’s random and spurious cover price) PR Week lets us all down with a three-page piece about evaluation.

Why has it let us down, I can hear you cry, what’s so wrong with that? Isn’t evaluation one of the hottest topics in the business currently? Isn’t it something that should be debated? Isn’t it something on which we need opinions, and suggestions and solutions? Do we not, as an industry, need an evaluation standard? And, you will ask ( and rightly), is not the ‘industry’s bible’ (etc etc etc) in the best place to address all of this?

Yes, yes and yes thrice more. But no. The Week manages to turn their three page opportunity into a lightweight discussion around whether AVE is good or bad, a bit of a moan about budgets and the suggestion that attitudinal research might be a good thing. No guidance, no solutions, no real debate and – my apologies to those who took part – no real seniority. Where were the industry leaders? And who the hell is Waggener Edstrom?

That would be bad enough, dear blog snorkellers, but it gets worse. This three page flit above the surface of the evaluation issue was accompanied by a picture of the participants in the ‘round table’. Not a very good picture. However, it was a picture of the participants in front of a table. A lunch table, Clearly laid for a three-course lunch, with both red and white wine glasses.

Not really reinforcing the stereotype then, PR Week? Not really confirming the preconceptions?

Anyway, two related questions.

Did no-one think about this when the picture was taken? And why, oh why didn’t someone crop the picture?

In my opinion – and feel free to disagree – I believe this to be negligent and damaging to the reputation of the industry. Such as it is.

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