Last Thursday, I was fortunate enough to be asked to present at the Media Business Course in Brighton for the fourth year running- the only PR, I’m told, who has ever had the invitation extended. Usually, it’s a day of great value to me: being pushed up in front of the surprisingly intimidating face of the media industry’s freshest bright young things forces myself and others to ruthlessly update our thinking and present totally new material each time.
This year, however, something was missing. As per usual, I totally reworked my presentation, but found myself surrounded by other speakers from TV, Advertising and elsewhere flogging the same shtick they’ve been peddling the last couple of times round the track.
Perhaps I’m being unfair to my esteemed colleagues: they all succeeded wonderfully in making PowerPoint their bitch, fleshing out each point with whizzing animations, Technicolor wankfests and glorious info graphics to the point of turgidity. However, at heart, they were clinging on, and they were offering old thoughts to some of the newest minds in the country. Once again, it’s the PR world that’s at the front line of culture change.
I’m filled with hope that PR could be right at forefront of communications culture change, but first we have to overcome the prejudices and obstacles placed in our way by a group of disciplines who are perpetually convinced that they are right. At the course, as in real life, they were putting lipstick on a series of proverbial pigs. The audience may have been comprised largely of vegans and vegetarians, but pork was most certainly on the menu.
When confronted with all this self-congratulatory bollocks, I’m reminded of an old Jewish joke: A rabbi is acting as marriage counselor and agrees to see a couple, but one at a time. The wife carries on about the husband, and the rabbi nods, over and over: “You’re right! Of course, you’re right.” In his session, the rabbi tells the husband: “Yes, you’re right. What can I say– you’re right!” After they leave, the rabbi’s assistant, who heard it all, asks: “Not to be rude, Rabbi, but how can they both be right?” To which the rabbi responds: “You know what– you’re right!”