Thursday, 22 October 2009

A week of celebrating PR

PR all too often gets slagged off by its detractors, and all too often is poor at coming to its own defence. So the awards season is always a good time to remember the good work that PR professionals do.

The PRCA are national sponsors of the CIPR's PRide awards, so the next few weeks will see us at their dozen or so ceremonies, meeting members, handing over trophies. But of course it's not just those guys who run awards - our own take place on November 3rd, and are on track to be an even bigger success than last year's. Corp Comms' are up soon, ditto AMEC's, ditto the second outing of the Fresh PR awards.

The most enjoyable element of awards of course is seeing your friends and colleagues win. So last week's awards in Cardiff were especially good, as Golley Slater and its eminence grise Martin Long won Welsh agency of the year. For those of you who know Martin, you'll realise that it was entirely appropriate the evening ended in a cocktail bar named Ten Foot Tall.

PR Week's event was a storming success too (though not quite so storming for the protesters who were escorted out I guess...). It was a pleasure seeing two titans of the industry presenting and receiving the UK agency of the year award -Colin Byrne handing it over to Robert Phillips. And seeing Alex Aiken beam with pride at winning in-house team of the year. Long overdue.

A good night was had by all -a sore head the morning too I'm sure.

One final thought amid the celebratory stuff. Tamsin Cave of the self-styled 'Alliance for Lobbying Transparency' took exception to my recent post in favour of self-regulation. She called it 'sanctimonious', but decided to reply to it elsewhere. Let me put aside the intense irony of the ALT chief calling anyone sanctimonious (pot kettle comparisons rather spring to mind...), and just say this -if you don't like what I say, then post a comment, and let's debate. But if you want to take issue, don't post a comment on your own blog -a blog which deliberately stops anyone commenting. Seems a little chicken to me.....

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Unhorsing the free riders....

The news that Tory Shadow Cabinet member Francis Maude has pulled out of an APCO reception ( ) should give us all pause for thought. He’s done it in order to avoid being associated with a lobby company. And that’s something that affects us all, and should worry us all.

It follows his recent announcement that a future Conservative Government would impose statutory regulation should the industry as a whole not sign up to self-regulation.

I used to work at the Tory Party, and from what I can judge, this is no idle threat.

Too many public affairs agencies out there still choose not to be regulated. They provide various –frequently transparent- excuses for this. They say that their internal codes of conduct are than independent ones; that it wouldn’t be fair to their clients to reveal who they work with. Etc, etc, etc. What they really mean is that they’re free riders on the ethicality of their peers. That they are ashamed of who they work for. That they are incapable of adhering to proper codes of conduct.

Well, they now have a choice. If they continue to remain outside the pale of decent practice, then they will bring statutory regulation down upon not only themselves, but upon the public affairs industry as a whole. Their intransigence and obstinacy will inflict personal professional damage upon us all.

We’ll be working over the next few months to extend our coverage of the industry, and to increase the already forty-plus public affairs agencies that are today members of the PRCA and already embrace self-regulation. And we’ll also be naming and shaming those companies –and their chiefs- that are putting our industry’s future at risk. Because it’s time they realised the threat they pose to the industry that they purport to love.