Top marks to one of the CIPR Advanced Certificate class who spotted this profile of working as a publicist from The Guardian called “decent exposure”.
Sadly the piece does little more than portray a stereotype of luvvie London agency life. But what can you expect when the previous profile of someone trained in shiatsu therapy was portrayed as the working life of a masseuse?
The article on Sophie Knight, of Shine Communications may actually tell us more about journalist Leo Benedictus. He not only equates PR with publicity, but has a style of writing that is full of cliched detail. This is evident in his descriptions throughout the piece, making it an interesting exercise in deconstructing language.
From “an open expanse of steel girders and glass brick” to “a froth of personalising clutter”, via the “rack of style magazines” to “Knight’s funkily dressed colleagues”, an image of PR is created. And, it’s not one of strategic consultancy.
PR is presented as trying to “inveigle” marketing messages into the media by “creating a situation that the news will want to report on,” according to Ms Knight – the “grubby detail” as the journalist notes.
The entire approach to PR is presented as reacting to the current news agenda, which is ironic for the Adv Cert class as the guys had spent Saturday looking at the value of planning. That included understanding evaluating PR is not simply getting excited by “hits”.
No offence to young Sophie, as she “didn’t plan to go into PR”, having studied environmental science at Oxford Brookes University. Hence, the “the buzz, the music, the people” at Shine sold her on the profession.
It would be great if Sophie does decide to add some depth to her enthusiasm – not least as she has thought about the ethical aspects of her business. She would undoubtedly benefit, like the current Adv Cert students, from not just seeing PR as something you shouldn’t do, but enjoy.
And maybe she’d realise that real PR practitioners are working with the news stories that so annoyingly affect the “hits” generated by the creative twaddle produced by too many agencies.