A great reflection on the latest round of PR criticism is provided at Global Neighbourhoods: The Annual Bashing of PR practitioners.
Like many other service careers these days, the reputation of public relations is too often influenced by those who are not interested in best practice, acting ethically or adapting to changes such as social media.
Also, as criticisms largely originate from those on the receiving end of the “press agentry” (bling PR) approach, the wider remit and responsibilities of public relations are missed.
Does this matter? Isn’t PR big enough to withstand a bit of baiting? That for me is the crux of the matter. We need to be more confident and open about what we do – and practice real PR for PR. That means the likes of CIPR need to up their game, but so do all those practitioners who dislike being associated with the poor reputation. We need to prove, loud and proud, that PR means building relationships with publics (including the media and bloggers) based on ethical principles and solid values of respect and conversations not puff, publicitity, propaganda, spin or biased rhetoric.
We need an ethos of working with others – being helpful and responsive – prepared to argue our corner and demonstrate effectively to CEOs why DIY PR isn’t really the answer. Good PR practitioners need good CEOs and should never act as a barrier between the organisation and those who help form its reputation. We should be facilitators and respected counsellors, not the special protection force.
Good organisations need good PR, to help them build and communicate a strong reputation and effective relationships with publics – as well as managing issues and possible crisis situations.
Media relations are part of this, and need to be conducted professionally. PR will also often work with marketing and may create pseudo-news, but should ensure that this side of the profession doesn’t dominate, especially when poorly practised.
There will always be “rogue” PR practitioners, like the weakest link in any profession. The challenge is to focus more on best practice and ensure people entering the profession don’t just learn bad habits from those who believe PR is intuitive rather than something that can be learned and improved.
Unfortunately this might not warrant a round of blogging discussion – because good news is rarely as interesting as highlighting problems.