This cartoon is featured by B.L. Ochman who highlights also the way public relations practitioners have been featured in movies. He claims this public image problem is caused by PR people who aren’t being ethical – and that these folk outshout those of us who are hard-working, honest, and ethical.
We’ve discussed some of these points in the seminars I take with the first year Public Relations undergraduates at Bournemouth University. It has been interesting to see them consider the pros and cons of a press agentry approach (where the focus is on getting coverage and truth is not essential). I believe they will have the right intentions when they go out on placement and eventually enter the industry. But I fear they will be coerced into poor practices by clients and their bosses. The challenge is not just to tell them what is right, but empower them so they are able to stand up against unethical practices.
We hear a lot of criticism about the standard of PR graduates, but maybe in this area, there is a lot the industry can learn from the newbies.