Before anyone has a pop – while, yes, I am having a rant and poking fun at the expense of the industry (specifically the CIPR – of which I am a member), there is also a very serious message underpinning this post. And why – blog snorkellers mine – would I waste time in delivering the message? So here it is.
We, sad sailors on this ship of fools that we call communications, are supposed to be sensitive to shit. With me so far? Part of our function, and a part that fills the fee coffers of so many of of our finest agency purveyors, is counselling clients (internal and external) on how to present themselves. What to say. What not to say. What to align with. What not to align with. What to embrace. What not to embrace. We are supposed to point out the pitfalls of courses of communications action and – most importantly – recognise when it is best to keep your head down and just say nowt.
So it is with mouth-dropping incredulity that I read this. For you lazy bastards who never click on a single link I post, it’s a story about the Northumbria Police Force who entered the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) PRide Awards (even the name makes my skin crawl), and won an award, with their handling of the fallout from a fatal crash in which one of its officers drove into, and killed, a 16-year old child. The officer was doing 94mph in a 30mph zone without lights or a siren, and he was jailed for three years.
Now. Where to start. CIPR PRide Awards judges – what made you think that it was a good idea to consider this for an award, never mind actually naming it a winner? Northumbria Police Force – who amongst your communicators was so thick-skinned, blind and self-centred as to think that a pathetic PR award was more important than the feelings, grief and privacy of a family missing a daughter? Did no-one involved in this predict the (yes, inevitable) fallout?
Once again, the PR industry gets a shoeing in the national media and the stereotype of the airheaded, oblivious PR practitioner gets a bit of reinforcing.
We’re our own worst enemies. Let’s try and tighten things up shall we, and bring the same rigour that we claim to apply to our client work to bear on the communications we do on our own behalf. Let’s try and be – genuinely – a profession.
And not just a cheap fucking joke.