12 February 2010

Government PR mostly propaganda

I fully support the claims of former Army PR Officer Andrew Bird ("Veteran charges Army over spin", Sydney Morning Herald, 12 Feb). Article

It's a sad fact of life that all Defence PR (in fact all government PR) these days exists to paint the government in a positive light. It's called propaganda.

When I first served in Army PR, in the mid-1980s, PR Officers first and foremost represented the Army and the local military commander. PR Officers could speak to the media. That is not the case now. Everything is cleared by Canberra. I honestly don't know why any self-respecting PR person would want to be in uniform these days.

We have the Howard Government to thank for the manipulative process which now permeates all levels of government PR. It's a dangerous path and does little to demonstrate the first rule of PR: be open and honest. It also does a great disservice to our people in uniform, who despise the manipulation when asked to "perform".

It's why I resigned after 23 years (four in the Regular Army). I could not stomach a government that lied about the casualities in Afghanistan.

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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.