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 DVLA 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 NLA 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.