Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Does PR need to work on its own PR?

Last week's Press Gazette put the spotlight on Talk PR's 'gloves off' approach to journalists invited to a party sponsored by Perrier Jouet champagne. Everyone knows that a major part of PR work is getting positive media coverage for your client but it is clearly stepping over the line for many journalists to be told that they must name-check the client as a condition for accepting the invitation.

This is the sort of practice that some journalists love to expose, if only to enhance their credentials as crusading seekers of truth who would never follow a news agenda dictated by PR people. Ten years after BBC's Panorama made public the practices of political spin doctors, the PR industry still has its work cut out to counter hostile media representation. The term 'PR' often carries negative connotations when used, for example, in political interviews - 'are you telling us the truth or is this just PR?'

Edward Bernays claimed to have invented the term 'public relations' to put a positive gloss on the practices of 'propaganda'. Today, PR practitioners scorn any suggestion that their work has anything to do with propaganda and that PR is much more about maintaining equilibrium and building up relationships. But listen to how PR is discussed or referred to by some journalists and you may wonder whether it's time for a new alternative term to be invented.

Filed under:
Press Gazette   Panorama   spin   propaganda   Bernays   

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