Who Will Decide the Future of PR?

Given the current debate surrounding PR, PR spam and how to further the better practices of PR in the 21st Century, the news that 3am has fallen out with Peter Andre’s management, CAN Associates because CAN wanted to control every aspect of a minor story about Andre teaming up with a coffee emporium can’t have come at a worse time. 3am’s account makes for riveting reading. Click here to find out more.

PR is living in interesting times at the moment. As traditional marketing and advertising suffers a confidence slump, the best people in PR are carefully repositioning themselves and the PR industry into a lead practice that can take on all aspects of the modern, digitally savvy rapid-change media. But for every good and forward-thinking PR firm, there’s always one who wallows in the clichés of the industry, as CAN’s attempts to out-Kingsley Pat Kingsley have proved.

If they’d done it with a client imbued with a bit more effulgence and star-power than Andre, perhaps (and it’s a slim perhaps) it might have been justified. But this is a back to square one manoeuvre in the current climate, where the main struggle is to work out who occupies the high ground – journalists, bloggers or PR.

It is time for PR to focus on best practices and to put ego to one side. When I started out, I saw PR as a vocation and enjoyed it as such – but PR is a job like any other (albeit a sometimes rather exciting and interesting job).

A good example of best practice is Asda’s Dominic Burch, who has introduced a new culture of engagement and responsiveness to the company. Instead of simply burying bad news or hiding Asda’s corporate head in the sand, Burch has actively engaged with problems and used social media to resolve them. For example, when an ex-employee posted videos of himself licking a chicken and chucking food around the store, Burch went straight to the store and filmed a number of voxpop videos for YouTube with outraged staff, instantly diffusing a potential PR disaster.

If only everyone could be this engaged. No one is sure where the industry is going next, but it would be better if all the companies could see PR as a lead practice rather than a quick buck and help, through careful use – and deeper understanding – of the rapidly changing media landscape, to drive it forward into the future as the ethical, exciting and useful industry I know it can be if we all work at it.