I have to confess that I became hooked on ‘I’m a celebrity..’ this year. Don’t judge me it was a combination of needing some chewing gum TV as well as watching the social interactions linked to the arrival of Matt Hancock. It was always going to be controversial and get people talking. But the question throughout has been why do it, why now and what will be next?
It has been interesting to see the mention of Hancock’s ‘PR team’ over the weekend in the media. Whenever such things are mentioned, it is always with a hint to it being a negative and manipulative move. The Sunday newspapers claimed that the ‘PR team’ had been working to get Hancock votes in an election style approach. And in the TV news this morning there was a mention that this ‘PR team’ were manoeuvring to position him for the next step in his career. Does all this matter?
For me these mentions are what people will remember when they think of PR. It towers over all the other amazing work that PRs have done over this year or in recent years. The recent attack on the number of NHS communicators has highlighted that even after critical work during the pandemic PR is still seen as fluff or spin. Even my old workplace was in the media for dismissing social media as a distraction rather than a tool for engagement and connection.
There is an ongoing discussion about needing to show the business benefits of effective communication and that the stereotypes of PRs need to be challenged. It has been taking place for as long as I can remember and yet things never seem to move forward. I wonder why this is. Are we too focused on our work to look at this bigger issue? Are we too fractured as a group to speak as one? Is it just too hard to do?
I know next year is the 75th anniversary of the CIPR and there are huge opportunities to use this to explain more about what PR is and what it does. The more real stories of the work that happens every day to support businesses and help public services the better. I am increasingly of the belief that only with a continued, regular flow of such stories will we ever start to address the stereotypes of PRs. Let us all look at 2023 as the year that we get active and shout about what we do so that we can finally start to turn the tide.