Media relations for public relations

A debate is raging on Twitter about how public relations is represented by the media. It’s a longstanding industry issue that needs a cross-party approach to solve.

In summer 2016 I decided to stand for the role of CIPR President-Elect. 

Within my manifesto I committed to working with other industry bodies and especially the PRCA to solve some of our industry’s more difficult, embedded issues.

My ambitions have remained consistent: 

  • To enhance the CIPR’s standing within society and promote the member offer 

  • To reassert public relations as a strategic management function

  • To improve the health of our industry (including addressing misperceptions of what it is we do)

  • And to use whatever influence I have to improve the inclusivity and diversity of our 70,000 strong workforce. 

Which makes the ongoing debate about the media’s understanding of public relations of particular interest.

Last week I shared my views via Twitter and the #FuturePRoof podcast on The Art of PR, a recent theme of Radio 4’s The Media Show.

Yesterday and this morning I tweeted about Thomas Hale’s piece in the FT, which criticised the response from our industry bodies to the above. 

It’s frustrating following numerous media briefings by the CIPR last year, but there is no denying there is much more to be done to promote understanding about what public relations is (in its simplest form helping organisations find their why and how and to use their ethical compass) and looks like in its many tactical forms (media relations, publicity, public affairs and so on). 

Showcasing best practice is critical if the media is to represent us appropriately and challenge unethical behaviour when dealing with practitioners to help change the status quo.

Spin, obstruction and withholding information has no place in our work today and in fact never did.

Ultimately, my personal view is this is one of those wicked industry issues that requires a cross party approach to solve.

If the CIPR and PRCA combine their weight and influence to implement a media education campaign embracing the NUJ and targeting existing outlets, maybe then we’ll finally see a change in understanding.

It will also give us a much-needed boost to our reputation.