Tags: best practice, business, marketing, Max Clifford, PR, Public relations, reputation, Starbucks, transparency
The news that PR people now outnumber journalists by 4 to 1 (compared to 1:2 in 1980) has been greeted with dismay by some commentators. Are we PRs offended by this? Well yes, as a matter of fact, we are a little.
For too long PR practitioners have been categorised alongside estate agents and politicians – not a pleasant place to be. And, ironically, the current situation has come about because the PR industry hasn’t got its own PR right.
Too many people still view PR as something a little murky, made up of well-connected people using their influence to hoodwink the public. Think of PR and a majority think of Max Clifford – undoubtedly an extremely skilled professional, but very unrepresentative of the industry. Twenty years ago PR was media relations – today, media work is one aspect of the job among many, and in many cases a less important discipline than some.
The rise of PR reflects a changing business environment. Counter to its reputation, PR is about promoting the truth and enhancing corporate reputations, rather than about deception and the so called ‘dark arts’. Transparency has come to the forefront in business and in a more discerning marketplace consumers are looking more closely at the DNA of an organisation before embracing it and sticking to it. As Starbucks has found out, a strong, global reputation can be quickly dented if the businesses practices are questionable.
Good PR needs to be focused on building up trust through best practice – and little by little the industry’s reputation should start to improve as the number of practitioners continues to increase.
Tags: bankers, bonuses, election, recession, reputation
With Bank profits (and associated bonuses) back in the news the public outcry is again becoming deafening. The Banks have (rightly or wrongly) become the scapegoat for the current recession, and the public anger has only been heightened by the billions of taxpayer’s money that has been used to bail the them out. The fact that, barely twelve months on, the Banks are already gearing up to pay employees bonuses of hundreds of thousands of pounds smacks of naivety, especially so close to an election.
The City of London contributes an enormous amount to Britain’s prosperity, and in a free market if our Banks are recruiting the best and making huge profits then those staff members should be rewarded for their expertise. However, the level of animosity currently held against bankers, coupled with the back drop of rising unemployment means the timing of their bonuses is pouring fuel on the fire. The biggest potential threat for the Banks and their remuneration strategy is becoming an election issue with Brown and Cameron trying to outdo each other to show who would come down hardest on the Banks – a popular vote winner at the moment. Far better for the Banks to understand their current reputation with the public and, at the very least, defer bonuses for a year while the heat is taken out of the topic and they are no longer a national news story. Continuing with their current policy of not seeming to care about their reputation could result in legislation being introduced that will impact on them for years to come.
Tags: local government, proactive media relations, reputation
The current arctic conditions sweeping the country have, once again, brought into focus how prepared local authorities have been to keep roads operating. Perhaps inevitably the media is having a field day about the roads that haven’t been gritted, the worryingly quick rate that stocks of salt and grit are decreasing and the hysteria that accompanies the prospect of salt stocks ‘running out’. The story is following a very similar pattern to last year, with local authorities getting the full flack.
Of course, county council highways departments are an easy target, and always will be. But that is no reason to just accept the bad press – even if it feels like trying to turn back the tide, Councils need to communicate the positive work that they do and make an effort to explain the extent of the task and the work involved. Do we hear about the number of miles of roads that have been gritted, how many staff have been working through the night to prepare, how much it costs to store excess salt, how much it would cost to invest heavily in snow clearing equipment which would be used sparingly (and the increase on council tax this would entail)? Proactive media relations can sometimes seem like a helpless task, but it’s one the councils need to keep pursuing in a bid to communicate the reality of situations.
We will probably never get a balanced picture, but if the media isn’t given the explanatory facts, it’s guaranteed they will never use them.