A recent study by PR Week suggests that the public relations industry has a public relations problem. When 1000 members of the public were surveyed, 66% said they thought the public relations industry has a bad reputation and cites mistrust as the leading cause. http://www.prweek.com/article/1290909/prs-pr-problem-industry-improve-its-image-public
Perhaps this is not surprising considering the portrayal of PRs in the media in recent years, not to mention the latest conviction of celebrity PR Guru Max Clifford…
On a lighter note, it seems PR professionals have become an easy target for comedy figures and ridicule in the media because there is confusion over what it involves and there is potential for hilarity in communication cock-ups; recently we’ve had ‘Head of Branding’ Siobhan Sharpe from BBC’s Twenty Twelve and W1A speaking in meaningless riddles and buzzwords “ok here’s the thing with this guys, if Jamie Oliver re-tweets us it’s like total hashtag mash-up city’. More darkly, we’ve had glossy Head of Communications for the Met Police in Channel 4’s Babylon drama live tweeting the movements of an armed gunman on the loose because she’s ‘all about transparency’.
These types of sketches usually involve fluffy and ditzy female characters operating with their own jargon in a world filled with concepts that are neither shared nor understood by those they work for. For those of us on the ground this portrayal of the actual world of PR could not be further from the truth.
The reality, which is often not reflected in these stereotypes, is what goes on behind the scenes. Far from being the fluffy world of unrealistic concepts, PR campaigns involve meticulous planning, concrete targets and measured outcomes which usually include a diverse team from a wide range of professional backgrounds. Often a new trend or the latest buzz around a brand or product has had a hard working PR team behind it. Successful global campaigns may not always be attributed to PR because part of the campaign is keeping the mechanics under the radar. This sort of hard graft obviously does not make for good television.
Despite this prevailing negative public image the PR industry continues to grow with increasing numbers of graduates identifying it as their chosen career preference according to research from The Independent;http://www.independent.co.uk/news/media/make-an-impact-pr-is-a-popular-profession-for-both-graduates-and-career-changers-847695.html as it attracts creative types who have grown up in the 24 hour digital communication age and understand the power of social media across all platforms. However, it seems we still have a way to go to improve the PR Industry’s public image… maybe it needs a helping hand from a good PR agency!