OPINION: If all news is bad news it’s dire news for PR

My fervent wish for the new year, new century and new millennium is that British PR improves. It has had a distinctly ropey start if you ignore Mike and Fiona Thornewill and Catherine Hartley who became the first married couple to reach either geographical pole and the first women to walk to the South Pole. What’s more they did it almost bang on cue. Just three days adrift from the dawn of the Y2K. Not bad for amateurs on a 730-mile epic tramp.

My fervent wish for the new year, new century and new millennium is

that British PR improves. It has had a distinctly ropey start if you

ignore Mike and Fiona Thornewill and Catherine Hartley who became the

first married couple to reach either geographical pole and the first

women to walk to the South Pole. What’s more they did it almost bang on

cue. Just three days adrift from the dawn of the Y2K. Not bad for

amateurs on a 730-mile epic tramp.



Just think of the flu, the millennium bug that never was, the Dome and

Tesco and you’ll see what I mean. Why is it, when we know winter is the

grim reaper, that the NHS regularly allows itself to become the hapless,

frantic, crisis victim of a flu epidemic? Year after year we find it

muddling messily through when it is surely not beyond the wit of man to

devise a contingency plan for coping sympathetically and impressively

with a surge of business? It would be better than being accused of

taking old folk on long and fatal cross-country drives in search of

intensive care beds.



I find it impossible to believe that we were not taken for a pounds 35

billion ride by the computer buffs when there doesn’t seem to have been

even the trace of a malevolent millennium bug. Something would have gone

wrong somewhere if there had been a real, rather than a hyped problem.

With a global bill of pounds 400 billion, this must go down as the most

expensive in the whole gamut of ’cry wolf’ operations. A lot of people

are feeling ripped off.



But it is when you come to the Dome and Tesco that things get really

depressing. With a pounds 750 million price tag and confusion over its

purpose - the religious nature of the millennium meant it could never be

a tremendous fun fair - it was on a hiding to nothing. That being so,

our media-obsessed Government with its supposed genius for presentation

should have known a damn sight better than to channel the proles through

Stratford while the ministerial elite took the short Jubilee line route,

muck up the distribution of opening night tickets and have precious,

self-regarding editors queuing for them. It was just asking for trouble

and everyone, including the Dome, has got it.



Then take Tesco. Within 24 hours of telling us it was banning fruit and

vegetables grown on land which had previously been host to GM crops from

its shelves, it was back-pedalling like mad. ’Ah yes,’ journalists were

told, ’what we really meant was that there would have to be a year lying

fallow in between.’ For heaven’s sake, didn’t they know what they were

doing? Or were they got at by the Government’s GM Communications Unit,

known affectionately in the trade as the GM Spin Unit? We should be

told.



Otherwise PR is going to get a very bad name.



Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.