Ian Monk: Less backstabbing on the TV, please

The PR was an 'absolute disaster', opined the darkly bespectacled 'PR guru' on TV. We're always gurus, aren't we, when TV wants the opinion of a 'spin doctor' to fill in the infinite spaces of the rolling 24-hour news cycle?

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

And how often do we hear that someone else's PR strategy was an 'absolute disaster' when practitioners emerge from the shadows to self-promote?

PR gurus, former spin doctors, security experts, think-tank bods and newspaper reviewers are the usual crew dragged from 24-hour news' central casting to pad out the hours. For our clients, carefully handled opportunities for TV punditry offer rewarding profile-raising opportunities. As long as they are knowledgeable and well briefed, clients can give real insights and project their expertise.

Overall many 24-hour news rent-an-experts offer viewers an informed view. However, there are many who talk nonsense, either from ignorance or from commercial self-interest. Sadly, television PR gurus too often fall into this category.

The one whose musings last week prompted the top line of this column arguably did so. In splendid irony, as his oration reached its crescendo, a dustcart rumbled past in the background.

He had the wit and style to turn it into a genuinely humorous TV line. Neither, though, extended to responding to my text to him as he came off air pointing out how appropriate a vehicle it was for some of the garbage being spouted about my client.

Fair enough. No comment off air was probably judicious.

But is it good for the image of our industry that so often its practitioners use TV as an opportunity to advertise themselves by denigrating other PROs?

Of course we are in a highly competitive business. The challenges of the modern comms world make ours an occasionally rough trade.

But maybe as an industry we should show a little more professional dignity than constantly gifting TV with a backstabbing and self-interested caricature of a trade populated by dogs eating dogs.

- Ian Monk is founder of Ian Monk Associates and a former executive at the Daily Mail and The Sun.

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