Politics - like public relations - should start with listening to the public

Public relations is a strategic management discipline designed to support organisational objectives. 

One of the ways in which it does this is by helping organisations define their role in society and building relationships with those they are there to serve. 

In this way you could argue that public relations and politics are similar - in best practice cases, both put people above power and profit for the greater good.

Politicians make the decisions that affect us in daily life. We elect them in the hope that they'll do what's best for us and the UK.

Public relations practitioners, having helped set the strategic direction, are there to build relationships, manage reputation and tell the organisational story.

Leadership and ethics

As a member of both the CIPR and PRCA, I sign up to a Code of Conduct. This very clearly states that I will act ethically and never knowingly mislead either clients or their publics. If I did so, I'd be very quickly held to account and would very likely lose my reputation and livelihood. 

It appears we don't have a similar moral framework for the politicians we pay to represent us. And we certainly don't hold them to account. 

People's lives matter

Everything about the EU Referendum should have been a straight forward stakeholder engagement exercise. 

Instead, rather than keeping the public front of mind, it descended into a cacophony of mud slinging, blatant untruth and at times farce (the rival boat trips on the Thames).

A Member of Parliament was killed. 

Members of the public were not able to rely on the information they were given to make an informed decision, leaving them without a full understanding of the implications either way.

Leadership was lacking at every turn, from national and regional government to key influencers. 

Key experts such as Liverpool University's Michael Dougan were disregarded, and worse, discredited. 

Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me

Politics is about building relationships with people, not alienating them.

Like public relations, it should be about listening, mutual understanding and finding a way together. 

Today we have half a nation reeling at a result they didn't want - and the other half feeling betrayed for voting for something they are not going to get. 

Whatever happens next we all have a personal responsibility to change the status quo.

If we continue to accept this kind of behaviour from our elected leaders, we deserve exactly what we get. 

 

Image: Police separate two groups of rival protestors in Newcastle a day after the EU Referendum result announcement.