The Freedom of Information act has been beneficial for public relations, so I’m calling on the CIPR to oppose government moves to limit the new openness this legislation has brought in. Please join me in emailing Francis Ingham – Assistant Director General (Public Affairs and Business Development) at Francisl@cipr.co.uk
I know that many public relations practitioners affected by the FOI act believe it has increased their workload in responding to requests for data from the media and public. However, a more open system benefits public relations in terms of shifting from information distribution (technical function) to one where there is an opportunity to engage in dialogue, pro-activitely identify emerging issues and take a strategic role in advising management of stakeholder views at an earlier stage.
The Act also encourages a more active media – which may be seen by some in PR as a bad thing (if you simply want to feed releases that are printed word for word). I believe a strong media is important in ensuring all voices can be heard and that government and other organisations are not able to hide “unpleasant” facts from the public domain.
Of course there are cost implications in responding to “information seekers”. It also costs to engage in the traditional one-way communications – call it propaganda or public information.