Public relations needs more swans

I’ve just returned from the annual Christmas lunch of the Motor Industry Public Affairs Assocation () which I organised.  With some 80 public relations practitioners in attendance, it can be daunting to pull off event management.  But, I like to think I have a reputation of being a bit of a swan in PR terms – everything looks smooth on the surface, but my legs are paddling like mad beneath the waterline. 

Fortunately, this event doesn’t need much paddling from me thanks to the team at the venue, The Crypt, in London.  Jean-Louis who looks after us there is so relaxed and I am confident that everything will be perfect.  It helps that the building itself is just magnificent with a magical atmosphere.  I’m sure that there are plenty of swans making our experience so special – and I am grateful for every paddle.  We’ve been there 3 years running – and the feedback from members means we’re going to be back for 2007.

I wish I could praise other venues so highly.  The contrast with the likes of Hilton Hotels is chalk and cheese.  There it is all contracts, guaranteeing minimum and maximum numbers weeks in advance, horrendous charges for everything and a total lack of customer care.   I wish I could find anywhere for our CV Show reception but the NEC Hilton – it costs a fortune, they charge for parking and although the staff are pleasant, it isn’t a pleasure to organise.  Too much leg work for me in retaining my swanlike demeanour.   

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

3 thoughts on “Public relations needs more swans”

  1. I attended the CIPR event last night in the Corinthian in Glasgow, what was a lovely venue and one which I know has been used before for other events. The picture editor of the Evening Times told us many anecdotal tales and lots of dos and don’s of how to submit images to the paper.

    One direct observation I will make is when he said that photographers are journalists just as those are on his newsdesk, etc. “One tells the story with pictures, the other with words,” he said.

    I have never heard anybody refering to photographers in this way have you?

    Oh, and one more thing: us PR practitioners should never refer to newspaper photographers as “snappers”. I must confess, I have in the past, but I shall no more.

  2. Snappers is to photographers as hacks to journalists and flacks to PRs – slang that belies the professionalism of the good practitioners.

    I am a huge fan of photographers in PR terms. Your contact is correct that images tell stories (hence why we need to understand visual communications and semiotics). In my career, I’ve spent many days out with photographers getting the right images for the cars we were launching – I was obsessed about logos on wheels all being the right way up (which involves jacking up the car to move them round). Often I was a free model when I worked for National Breakdown and needed a brave person (that’s me) to pose as someone broken down at the side of the motorway.

    I recommend PR practitioners go out with photographers whenever possible; both to understand their constraints and to give clear guidance on the types of images you are looking for to tell your corporate stories.

  3. I used to do a bit of photography for second-hand car sales magazines. It’s amazing the numbers of people who won’t bother changing to a wide angle lens to capture the inside of the dash as it really is, thus only getting a part of it with a standard lens. Like your logos Heather, I always wanted the front wheels turned to give the car more ‘movement’ in the shot.

    The numbers of times i got myself in the photograph taking truck cab door pictures was alarming. Highly polished trucks and crouching photographers just don’t go. That is, until I discovered a tripod and a nifty remote control!

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