Public relations should receive a far better press

If you stopped the ubiquitous ’man in the street’ and asked him or her what advertising, direct marketing and public relations is all about, what do you think might be the reply?

If you stopped the ubiquitous ’man in the street’ and asked him or

her what advertising, direct marketing and public relations is all

about, what do you think might be the reply?



I know, because I did it - although I needn’t have bothered. We all

know, don’t we, that the popular view of anything complex is always

simplistic and rarely positive. And yet, as our harshest critics on any

matter you care to mention, shouldn’t we take note of the view of Judy

and Joe Public in their public bar?



The responses certainly come as no surprise. Advertising is an

aggravating, extravagant interference getting in the way of press and

broadcast editorials (witness the emergence of the verb ’to zap’), and

only serves to bump up the prices of goods and services that would be

cheaper without it.



And should the grim reaper ever finally catch up with him - which I

doubt - Drayton Bird would surely turn in his future grave to learn that

direct marketing is, of course, just ’junk mail’. And no Joe or Judy

will naturally ever admit to being influenced by an ad, or responding to

a mailing, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary.



But at least advertising and DM are visible and tangible. What of

PR?



Judy and Joe still have a view. It ranges from the sad spectre of shady

shysters pulling strings behind the scenes, to the worlds of

manipulative spin doctors, and kiss ’n’ tell busty blonde bolly-sodden

bimbos.



It seems the prime purpose of PR people (please don’t say ’PR’s’)

revolves around hustling a hard-pressed press in order to push a

client’s product.



Words like ’puff’ and ’bumph’ predominate and the term ’PR exercise’ is

seen always to be a negative.



It’s all true of course. There are bimbos ... of both genders. Their

off-stage antics do reinforce the popular image of vacuous excess.



But like all truisms, it’s not the whole truth, and nothing but the

truth.



Does it matter?



Should marketers care? Well, PR’s particular problem is that one of

society’s most influential groups - hacks - are themselves consumers of

the service in its most humble and often puerile form: the press

release.



And so, paradoxically, PR gets a poor press. And yet at its best it is a

philosophy that strikes right at the heart of any successful

enterprise.



It begins with asking ’who are we/what are we?’ questions, moves on to

the formulation of a meaningful culture based on the results and then

helps communicate to all those stakeholder groups upon whose success the

organisation depends.



PR with some of these groups, like employees, involves not a single

journalist. At the top end PR is the most intellectual of all the

disciplines.



Heady stuff? No way. It’s true. So shouldn’t the public be told?

Nah.



They’d never believe it.



Quentin Bell is chairman of the Quentin Bell Organisation.



Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message
Lynx unleashes £9m 'Peace invasion' campaign
Social Brands 100 Youth: Pizza Hut most social youth brand in UK
Cheryl Cole is wild and arresting in new L'Oreal work
Morrisons told not to show alcohol ads during YouTube nursery rhymes
O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug