Ignorant media criticises professional PR

I would like to see a campaign by CIPR to contact mis-informed media such as Chief Reporter Chris Davies, whose Swansea Evening Post report slams the  budget for “spin and PR”.  It is about time such lazy journalism was picked up and the real value of public relations communicated to such people.  I quote:

Swansea’s Dvla is splashing out around £9.5 million a year on spin and PR.The massive bill covers a wide range of media and public relations tasks, from monitoring how the body is portrayed in the media to selling services like private number plates.

If Chris Davies knew anything about public relations – a topic he/she feels informed to report about – he/she would have noted 97% of the “huge figures” is spent on marketing and advertising, not PR.  The majority of this is probably allocated to buying media space – including with the Swansea Evening Post, I expect.  It will also cover the cost of postage for direct mail as well as paying the agencies for their time and creative input. 

So not actually spend on PR – although there are arguments for redirecting spend away from advertising and marketing towards public relations activities.

And where is the “spin”? Of the £258,374 reported as spend on the internal PR function – which is claimed to be “a big bill” – this involves the team supporting strategic goals such as recovering unpaid tax on vehicles and informing the public of changes in legislation.  The team also develops relationships with “a wide range of public and private bodies, which include the police, courts, local authorities, motor industry, and other government departments and agencies”.

Another swipe is taken at the cost of media monitoring.  I expect the £57,768 cited includes the fee required by the which collects money for local and national newspapers on the basis that organisations photocopy press clippings.

Why does this journalist find it strange for organisations to evaluate their activities?  We can argue that press coverage alone isn’t the best measure of the value of public relations, but it would be irresponsible for a public body not to engage in monitoring the outcome of their activities.

Still as the journalist kindly provides their email (CHRIS.DAVIES@SWWMEDIA.CO.UK) and an option to comment on the site – I’ll do my bit to address this attack on professional public relations.

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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.

5 thoughts on “Ignorant media criticises professional PR”

  1. It’s up to us to educate journalists like him. No one else will fire our cannons for us for sure. Each regional CIPR group could invite all journos to come out of the cold and host a question and answer session with them: we ask them what they want from us to make their lives easier and let them air their grievances with us. A sort of warts an’ all thing.

  2. Agreed that PR practitioners do need to ensure journalists know more about what we do and relationship building as you suggest is a good thing. However, for MIPAA I organise these “Meet the Media” style events and you have to watch that the journos don’t just see it as a moaning occasion all about what they want, rather than a two-way discussion where they also learn more about the PR function. I feel a lot of journos believe an organisation’s press office exists to keep them happy, ie as its customers. This is only part of the responsibility with managing media relations as part of an integrated communications and reputation management function.

  3. Is there anything I could read about these meetings at all? You know, a follow up report kind of thing? Thanks

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