Friday, 2 September 2011

Moving House

For all those who have followed me methodically, periodically, or accidentally over the past three years I would like to announce my blog posts will be moving to the newly launched PRCA website.

You can continue to gaze at the wider world of PR, politics and whatever happens to occupy my mind at this webpage:


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Close Down Twitter? Not In A Democratic Society

I've just read a comment on Conservative Home by Tory MP Nadine Dorries. It supports suggestions that twitter etc should be closed down during any repeat of the rioting which took place last week.

Before I type my next paragraph, let me be quite clear (though to most people who know me it will come as no surprise): I belong to the same party as Mrs Dorries. I was a Tory Councillor. I was a Tory Association officer. I worked for the Party.

So with that context given.... her idea is one of the most awful I've heard a Tory MP suggest for many years.

Twitter et al helped rioters. Well, it also helped the Police and the other emergency services respond to the rioting. It also helped 'civilians' both during and after the rioting. It's also now helping the Courts and the other relevant authorities in the aftermath.

Her reaction is a terrible example of blaming the medium, not the individual. Doubtless newspapers have given publicity to ideas of which she disapproves -and indeed of ideas and movements which are themselves against the law. Doubtless the same is true also of books. But you don't close down either, because that is not just a ridiculously unfair over-reaction, it's also patently self-defeating.

To quote Kissinger -a man whose career I am sure we have both always regarded with a large degree of admiration- "Leaders are responsible not for running public opinion polls but for the consequences of their actions". The proposal to close down twitter might well get a favourable headline in a couple of newspapers, but the consequence of doing so would be so out of keeping with a democratic society as to be unthinkable.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Credit Where Credit's Due....

Yesterday, I spent eight hours briefing the media on the implications of the Court of Appeal's ruling in the PRCA and Meltwater case versus the NLA. It was a good day, and we conveyed many of our key messages.

On the back of that, I've received a great many messages of support from the industry's leading figures. They appreciate the time and effort the PRCA and Meltwater have expended in fighting the NLA. Those messages are very welcome.

We have been delighted to stand up for our industry, and delighted to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Meltwater in this case.

What has perplexed me though is how those who bodies that declined to be involved in the case are now attempting to claim credit for it. Let me be utterly clear on this. Other monitoring providers, and other professional bodies, were invited to join with Meltwater and the PRCA. And they declined.

I read some people's public comments therefore with at least a raised eyebrow.

Let me be quite clear. The only people who have been involved in this case -who have had, dare I say, the balls to fight the NLA- have been the PRCA and Meltwater.

Nobody else.

No other private company.

No other membership body.

We asked a number of those organisations to become involved. They declined. While I welcome their support now, sometimes I do wonder what value their support is when it is nothing more than a blogpost....

As for our role, well I tried to express it yesterday in a recording at M4DC. You can see it here.

To my mind, this is one of the key bits: "Over the course of this past year, some people have asked us why we have gone to the time and expense of fighting the NLA in the Courts. The answer is very straightforward. It is our duty. There is no point being an industry body if you are too scared or too lazy or too arrogant or too indifferent to stand up for your industry. That is what we have done, and I am proud that we continue to do so."

Friday, 15 July 2011

The PRCA's Onward March

Well, that was a pretty good week really.

What did we achieve?

We launched the PR Census 2011. It is by far the most comprehensive and detailed analysis of the industry ever undertaken. I say that having overseen the CIPR’s attempt to do the same six years or so ago. It gives us detailed knowledge of the size shape, pay and background of the industry and its participants. It will be of great value to our industry, and is a fine example of collaboration between the PRCA and PR Week.

We did a PRW webcast on it. And a Gorkana one too

Our members said that the worst was yet to come for News International -and have surely been vindicated already.

Yesterday was the inaugural PRCA-APPC-VMA public affairs summer drinks party. A thoroughly crowded St Stephen’s Club saw some of the most powerful people in the industry gather, exchange views and drink decent wine. We were even happy to welcome the CIPR’s Phil Morgan and my friend its ex-President Lionel Zetter there too.

The second deadline for our awards closed, with entries up by around a half. And, of course, we welcomed a couple more corporate members.

So the onwards march of the PRCA continues....

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

NOTW -the wider picture

Both as somebody who knows the communications industry reasonably well, and as a parent, the News of the World allegations are astonishing and appalling.

The wall of contempt that has hit News International is remarkable both in its ferocity and its justification. And indeed in the financial risk it poses.

Yesterday, Rebecca Brooks struck a defiant pose, clinging to her role. She ought to have resigned. Were I a betting man, I wouldn't be risking much on her still being at the helm in a month's time. The pressure on and from advertisers is so acute that throwing the NOTW's critics her head might well be the only sensible way to stem the flow of money.

Last night, I was chatting with a senior person in one of NI's rival titles. Their concern was that the reputational damage being done to NI would be collateral to the wider newspaper industry. That NOTW's hacking activities would damage not just one newspaper or indeed one group of newspapers, but newspapers as a whole; that this might be the tipping point for the PCC and its always under-pressure self-regulatory model.

Those seemed to be to be absolutely sensible observations. Imagine the reaction of politicians dragged through the mud by the Telegraph's revelations of their expenses arrangements. Their temptation must surely be to repay the industry that they blame for so much personal financial and reputational hurt.

Put all that together with the growing extinction of the newspapers' current business model, and I'm glad not to be in the newspaper industry right now.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ding Dong the COI is Dead

Francis Maude has announced the COI's demise. Excellent news. I think tonight I shan't be the only one celebrating its demise.

Here's our official response:

"The Government is absolutely right to abolish the COI. Over recent years, it has become an appalling example of waste, inefficiency and blinkeredness. Within our industry, its reputation for arrogance and indifference has become legendary -very, very few people will mourn its passing.

In our formal submission to the Cabinet Office review, we urged the Government either to reform or to abolish the COI. We are delighted that we clearly share the same sentiments.

Those who weep for the COI do so from a position either of ignorance or of self-interest. Francis Maude has taken a bold and correct decision, and should be complimented, not criticised for doing so."

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Keynote at MIPAA

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of delivering the opening address at MIPAA's Masterclass.

For those of you who don't know MIPAA, it's the membership organisation that represents communicators working in the motor industry. It's also a PRCA sectoral group, with a seat on our PR Council. I thoroughly recommend it to you -if you're eligible to join it, then you should.

My comments yesterday were around the challenges PR faces over the coming years. The full transcript can be found here

But if you don't fancy reading the whole speech, there are the four key challenges I identified:

· Start addressing issues of strategic reputation management rather than tactical delivery. We're still magnificent about bemoaning the fact we often don't have a place at the top table -and rubbish at changing that situation. If we want to change it, we have to genuinely become the chief source of counsel to clients and CEOs.

· Embrace and embed robust evaluation standards. Our work with AMEC is vital here, but until clients, colleagues and we ourselves are willing to invest in evaluation, AVEs will linger on.

· Own the digital space. If we don't own it, someone else will. Digital is now an integral part of PR -we need to understand it, demystify it, own it.

· Attract the best talent. We shouldn't beat ourselves up about our industry -we are truly a colour, gender and sexuality blind industry in my experience. But we can usefully examine what those who choose not to work in our industry think of us -and if we genuinely are attracting and retaining the very best of talent.

Oh and I also made some comments on interns. We need to treat the whole intern issue with care. But at a minimum, we do need to observe the law. And the law is pretty clear -long-term internships bring with them the minimum wage.

Since May 1st, 16 MPs have advertised for unpaid jobs. That is hypocritical and outrageous. So.... we will be referring them to the Parliamentary authorities. Because you can't berate private industry for treating interns badly when you yourself advertise for staff whom you don't pay at all....