Weeping for the PR trade

Tomorrow's Business

The PR industry is feeling misunderstood. We all know the feeling. A little bruised and underappreciated.

A few days back BBC Radio 4 did a show called The Art of Public Relations, a show so dastardly in its portrayal of flaks that the Public Relations and Communications Association issued a press release.

The show was “shockingly inaccurate”, in ways that are “incredibly embarrassing for the broadcaster”.

I’m not sure this show will make the list of things the Beeb might be ashamed of, but the PRCA has got a point.

The show had PR as purely about getting good publicity. Whereas the trade – don’t call it a profession – would have it that PR has a more all-encompassing role, guiding strategies across organisations.

Two thoughts. 1) Much of the industry really is just about publicity. It is endless teams of Jemimah’s and Rupert’s pushing press releases into places where they mostly don’t fit. 2) The clever bit of the industry, the real savvy folk briefing top level hacks and guiding chief executives away from disaster, is all done in secret.

The work of hacks appears in print or is broadcast and open to scrutiny. The work of flaks mostly remains hidden. You can’t really expect to operate entirely in the dark and have everyone appreciate your brilliance at the same time. Discuss.

In the meantime, hacks do understand what flaks do in the background, even if the BBC does not.

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