PR and its PR Problem
The Public Relations industry has suffered reputational damage in recent years, no question. But instead of just talking about it, what we can do to redeem ourselves?
The source of the problem is a combination of high-profile scandals and a lack of understanding of what we actually do. So it’s no surprise then the general public sees us as one big devious group.
Generally speaking, the public tend to think of a PR agency as one of three things – a propaganda machine, people who cover up bad things or someone you pay to come up with whacky stunts to sell the stuff that won’t sell. And, to be honest, they can be forgiven for thinking that because as PR professionals we don’t do a very good job at PRing ourselves.
First off, PR isn’t as easy or as straightforward as people may think. PR professionals are perpetually faced with the problem of trying to promote good news in a world filled with people who seem to love hearing about the bad stuff. It’s what gets people to take notice after all. And more often than not, the good news doesn’t manage to break through.
Also, many people shy away from discussing their jobs in public or talk about what they do in a very negative, self-deprecating way. And given the nature of the business, many PR professionals don’t promote their own work.
That is because most only focus on the end product – the press release, the conference, or the big reveal. But what happened along the way? What were the thought processes, the eureka moments or the potential hiccups that brought you to this end result?
The severe lack of information about the research, the creativity, the strategy or the sheer number of caffeine-fueled hours needed to produce the magic at the end doesn’t help when we try to convince people that what we do is more than just meaningless tosh.
We should be proud of the industry we work in. Clearly it needs to manage its reputation better and that won’t happen overnight. It’s our job to ensure that the work of our clients is identified and communicated to the masses. So let’s do the same for our own wonderful industry and show the world just how important, valuable and vital the work we do is.