Public relations and chicken licken

The tale of Chicken Licken (also known as ) comes to mind every time I read about about the death of something or the end of the world as we know it. 

Whilst agreeing with the premise of Brian Solis’ post The Pitch is Dead RIP (ie PR practitioners should develop personal contacts rather than adopt spam media relations) – I adore Phil Gomes’ cry that Saying stuff is dead is dead.

Like Chicken Licken, one way of gaining attention is to make cataclysmic claims: the sky is falling on my head being the extreme reaction to a knock from an acorn.

Every day, PR practitioners peddle dire warnings; fear appeals based on extrapolating horrendous consequences if the message isn’t followed.  If the PR campaign is successful, then we’ll attract followers; advocates of our claims who will pass it on.  The power of word of mouth propagating the need for action.

People are attracted by the flapping of wings – journalists amplify the cry and online, bloggers join the “conversation”, stimulating frenzied speculation of disastrous consequences.

Is it fair to cast the media as the unscrupulous fox who at the end of the tale manipulates the masses for his own benefit?  Or is the role of the PR practitioner who highlights the problem, but also claims to have the solution to the impeding disaster? 

Is Chicken Licken, PR Executive, also Foxy in disguise?  The world will end if you don’t buy my product, fund my cause, elect me?  Global warming is the sky falling – but you can hold it back by carbon offsetting or using low energy lightbulbs.

Fortunately – or unfortunately if you are a PR professional with an important message to communicate – the public is becoming more resistant to joining the gaggle of silly birds.  They may know the problem is really an acorn, or believe the sky won’t fall on them.

And then what will you do – little PR chicken?

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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.