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The Ironic Truth About Public Relations' Reputation

PR over the years has increasingly had a tough time with their own reputation. They are sometimes referred to as ‘spin doctors’ or ‘media manipulators’ resulting in a negative impact on the profession especially if people believe PR agencies are the driving force behind dampening or covering up the truth. In today’s world the public are more aware of the indiscretions of industries and certain figures which has made it easier to hold people accountable for their actions. I run an international PR agency, Repp Media. We specialise in personal publicity and crisis management however I will openly admit I have been guilty of blurring the lines between what my values are and what needs to be done to protect my client. I was recently debating about who is responsible for the reputation and integrity within the PR industry and I was asked, “Is it your job to raise the standard of integrity of global communications in Public Relations or is it the Trade Associations Job?” –After some reflection I now believe that this is an issue we face as an industry and can’t be solved by one association or one company. It needs to be a collective effort to challenge the stereotypes and the overall perception of Public Relations. There have been examples of PR experts who have taken advantage of struggling clients and have unethically orchestrated situations to secure them media headlines regardless of the negative perception. Blurring the lines between shame and fame. More than ever people are consumed by media and with the unstoppable force of social media it is extremely easy to be misguided by controversial content that may not be accurate. The ultimate role of PR is the ability to tell strong thought-provoking stories and to give journalists factual content for their publication, steering away from the clickbait headlines that engulfs social platforms. Social Media has allowed the masses to become journalists and PR professionals resulting in the media receiving an influx of badly written press releases, desperate stunts and silly photos. These actions have come to rile publications and fuels the bad PR image allowing us all to be tarnished with the same brush. When there is a crisis or negative story surrounding a brand or public figure the internet is flooded with comments about how bad the PR/Publicist is however the industry are very rarely acknowledged when the good work is done. This is where the problem is. We need to be more confident to promote and celebrate our successes. We should recognise the achievements of other PR agencies around the world and openly applaud them. It isn’t our job to be in the media however it is our job to show people that PR can be behind the greatest causes and has the power it has to change to world for the better. Take Greta Thunberg and her worldwide climate change campaigns as a prime example. With the digital landscape constantly evolving it has become easier for PR agencies to show the benefits of PR to their clients through up-to-date metrics and measurements. It has also become easier to communicate within the industry and promote successful campaigns. I remain hopeful that the negative reputation PR has endured over the last few decades will soon be a distant memory and the industry will come together to show the world the positive power of PR.

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