15 May 2008

Lazy media exposed

Matt Hayden does “sit down comedy” (he writes a blog). His irreverent swipes, however, became national news this week when he said the leader of the WA Opposition may have mishandled a quokka (a small marsupial found on Rottnest Island off the coast of Perth.

While it has nothing to do with PR, it has everything to do with journalism (our close neighbour) and how easily the media is fooled (and how slack they are).

After apologising to Buswell, Matt said: “Now it has become news in the mainstream meeja. Which I’d say makes the meeja the bloody joke, wouldn’t you?”

The incident highlights how easy it is to pass non-news as news, simply because journalists are too lazy to check their sources.

In a roundabout way, it’s encouraging for (ethical) PR practitioners, as it highlights another trend in the media: that they are becoming so short-staffed there is little time to check stories.

More: http://www.prlab.com.au

11 May 2008

Olympic committee gets gold for common sense

The decision by the Australian Olympic Committee to lift the ban on its athletes commenting on sensitive issues during the Beijing Games is sensible.

Why they had the ban in the first place is a mystery, as is why the sudden change of heart.

From a PR aspect, it will mean far less work "putting out bushfires" during the Games.

Denial of free speech never was an Australian "strong point" anyway.

More PR at http://www.prlab.com.au

09 May 2008

What's important in PR: part 2

Following the release of the Delphi study into PR practice, for what's it's worth, I still believe that research and the ability to prove PR's worth to employers/clients are the most important things.

• Without research you won't know where you've been, how you're going to find a better route and what you're trying to achieve.

• Without proving the profession's worth we will never get that "seat at the head table" we're so fond of saying we should have.

To achieve the latter you need measurable objectives – something not included in many PR plans. If you can't measure success or failure, you can never know your true value.

More PR at http://www.prlab.com.au

08 May 2008

What's really important in PR

A study released this week outlines the 10 most important things that PR (educators) should be focusing on.

Compiled by Tom Watson, of Bournemouth University, the study appeared in Corporate Communications: An International Journal.

While there were only 31 respondents, from an original 44 who were approached, the study used the Delphi method, which is "characterised by a structured process of questionnaires or rounds of discussion until a group consensus is reached" (Beretta, 1996; Green et al., 1999), sort of process of elimination. Not rigidly academic, but nevertheless has been used in various professional.

So, according the the "experts", the 10 things we should be considering are:

1. Public relations' contribution to strategic decision-making, strategy development and realisation, and efficient operation of organisations.

2. The value that public relations creates for organisations through building social capital and managing key relationships.

3. The measurement and evaluation of public relations both offline and online.

4. Public relations as a fundamental management function.

5. Professional skills in public relations; analysis of the industry's need for education.

6. Research into standards of performance among PR professionals; the licensing of practitioners.

7. Management of corporate reputation; management of reputation.

8. Ethics.

9. ) Integration of public relations with other communication functions; the scope of public relations practice; discipline boundaries.

10. Management of relationships.

Then came: Client/employer understanding of public relations, The impact of technology on public relations practice and theory, The role of public relations in community/social responsibility programmes, International issues in public relations.

More later. And more PR blogs at the PR Lab home site http://www.prlab.com.au

04 May 2008

Poor PR for PR

The excellent British TV series, Absolute Power, provided viewers on the ABC with a dark comedy that portrayed PR in a poor (some would say, realistic) light.

The fictional firm of Prentice-McCabe dealt with a diverse range of clients, including politicians, drug-taking pop stars, ambitious archbishops and even Osama Bin Laden's cousin, who wanted to buy British Airways.

Each episode seemed to have one quote which summed up the writers' views of PR. Some examples: "Authenticity is not a currency we actually deal in ... PR means never having to say you’re wrong ... Everything we do is predicated on deceit. We’re shit. We’re in the gutter ... PR is intercourse with people you despise." You get the picture.

The trouble is that this show, and others about the profession, such as Absolutely Fabulous and Sex in the City, portray PR as all those things it is not.

Sure, there are many practitioners who used to be like that. And there are still some who follow those mantras.

My point is that the industry does nothing to correct these impressions. Possible it believes no harm will come; that it's just good entertainment. What the heck. They say any publicity is good publicity. Not in this instance.

These types of shows do irreparable harm to the profession's image. It's probably part of the reason few men are not studying PR at university. Males simply don't see PR as a serious subject. This is backed by findings of my PhD study into why more women than men are entering PR.

But why do we so little about it?

02 May 2008

When public perception dictates politics

In Western Australia, the Leader of the Opposition, Troy Buswell, has become notorious for his "schoolboy" behaviour. First it was snapping a female MP's bra strap. Now he's been outed for sniffing a female colleague's chair.

The amazing thing is that, despite public sentiment showing he should be dumped, its taken his party months to realise he's not the man for the job.

It's a lesson in how not to handle public perception and opinion. The chair-sniffing incident caused outrage in all media. Yet the Party line was "he's a decent bloke".

However, it looks as though common sense and decency might just prevail. One MP, Graeme Jacobs, at least had the sense (and guts) to call for a Party meeting to decide the issue.

More on PR at The PR Lab

About Me

My photo

The PR Lab is a consultancy, specialising on research, reputation management, social media, media relations and the development of measurable strategies that produce results. It is run by Dr Greg Smith, a former journalist and PR professional. Greg worked on daily newspapers in Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. He held senior PR positions in the Australian Defence Force, Sydney Olympics and national not-for-profits. He has also lectured in PR at Edith Cowan University and the University of Notre Dame Australia.