Public Relations sometimes gets a bad rap, be it from journalists who have become jaded by the practises of amateur PR practitioners (who mindlessly push non-news on them) or be it from pop culture, which has typically portrayed the industry as ‘a bit fluffy’ from time to time (think Ab Fab).
Of course I believe PR is invaluable and truly makes or breaks companies (but I would), but does it matter what I or others think about the industry? Yes and no.
In many ways, PR is not meant to be the focus, it is meant to be the force behind the success of others. The comparison that springs to mind is with fictional boxing trainer Mickey Goldmill. Mickey trained Rocky, taking him from a hungry unknown fighter with potential and turning him in to a world champion. Was Mickey the star? No. Did he want to be the star? No. His job was to get the champ ready and Rocky’s success was his success.
To those not involved in the inner workings of boxing, it would seem that Rocky had ‘done it alone’. And in fact this was great for Mickey – it made for a better story, equalling more media interest, and resulting in bigger fights for his client. But those involved in boxing – the potential clients for Mickey (had he been real) – they would know the importance of Mickey’s contribution and want a piece of it for themselves.
The point is that PR is about targeting the right people. The people who enlist PR support are the people involved in the inner workings of an industry, the ones who know what is really going on. Would it be nice for the average BBC sitcom viewer to highly respect PR practitioners? Sure. Would it be good if bad PRs didn’t give the industry a bad name with journalists? Of course. Does it ultimately impact those doing PR in the right way? Not really.
And there we go, a good PR agency is comparable to Mickey Goldmill (although you will always get the occasional agency that craves a little glory for itself and views itself as a bit more of a Don King).
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