Don’t be mad, be good

On Sunday, June 1, 2008 legal analyst Andrew Cohen of CBS spoke out on former White House Press Secretary, Scott McClellen’s new tell-all book. In his report, “The Flak on Flacks,” Cohen accuses PR professionals of making a living on untruths. He even calls out PRSA’s ethics. National PRSA responded. Cohen responds. And the arguing rages on, and on, and on.

First off, I disagree with Cohen’s sweeping generalization of PR people as liars. I was pleased to see a quick response by PRSA through the letter plus e-mails to membership keeping us updated. But it is hard to argue with the perception of public relations as a profession in society.

I’ve read where maybe the public relations profession should have a PR campaign. I don’t think this is possible. I don’t see how anyone could change societal views of public relations any more than I think people will start thinking highly of politicians, lawyers, used-car salesmen or journalists. We are viewed in a negative light. There is no denying this. People see us using “spin” to cover up problems.

I fall under the broker paradigm of public relations: An intermediary between an organization and its stakeholders to find mutually beneficial solutions. (Tip of the hat to Kami Huyse on her insightful post.)

What I do know is this: I can only control what I do as a communications/PR professional to influence how my sphere of influence sees my profession. I hope when people look at me and the work I do, they see a credible and honest professional who keeps in mind the best interests of my organization or client.

I should not/will not apologize for trying to make my organization or client look good for stakeholders. It is up to me to accomplish this task with integrity and not lie. We would better serve our profession by striving to be better at our profession including an adherence to its ethical standards.

Photo Credit: nouQraz

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2 Responses

  1. Right on, Vedo. This negative PR stereotype is pretty deeply ingrained. The good fight really occurs in doing quality working and winning over those close to you.
    We, as professionals, should be able to shake this criticism off and move on. How do we react when someone criticizes our organization/client – with angry, defensive emails or thoughtful conversation(when necessary at all)? I doubt this report changed anyone’s mind positively or negatively regarding PR. Let’s move on.

  2. You bet, and it is much more than just “not lying,” good PR leads to trust, and those who practice that type of PR have little to fear from this or any other backlash.

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