Two example press releases received today clearly demonstrate the extremes of public relations.
First, SEAT sport UK address a crisis management situation with: Jason Plato hurt in TV filming accident. This is a fairly factual and informative release that explains the context of the incident (although oddly neither the release nor any online coverage includes the date of when it occurred).
In contrast, we have the MPH Show with its “Clarkson climbs to new heights – Mountain built for new theatre stunt” release. This is pure press agentry – puff, fluff and hyperbole.
It’s arguably the most daring stunt ever for the organisers of the Jeremy Clarkson-fronted performance and prestige motor show, MPH ’07. Next month it will showcase a simultaneous race between a 4×4 and a professional climber up a 40ft man made mountain …indoors!
Clarkson will tackle the gravity-testing 45-degree incline in a Land Rover Discovery, and then park the car at the summit – hopefully before the mountaineer reaches the top.
And so on. No opportunity to squeeze in an adjective is spared – no cliche avoided. Of course, the hype fits with the image of Clarkson and Top Gear, but it is questionable to use the illusion of danger as a marketing gimmick when there are real accidents that face professionals – and the ordinary driver – all too often.
In public relations terms, being prepared for a genuine emergency reflects one side of the profession. Should the other end involve playing with such dangers for promotional purposes?