PR has neglected its own reputation

In a week when the profession's reputation and standing in the eyes of Joe Public sank lower than a snake's armpit, it has been hard to shake the feeling that many PR people are indeed cobblers' children.

Ruth Wyatt: 'If we add corrupt comms people to loathed lobbyists, abhorred spin-docters and detested publicists, we have an image problem.'
Ruth Wyatt: 'If we add corrupt comms people to loathed lobbyists, abhorred spin-docters and detested publicists, we have an image problem.'

There is, of course, one notable exception: Max Clifford. The man has given an object lesson in how best to handle a personal crisis.

Oh the irony. He who arguably has done more than any other to convince the outside world that PR is all ducking and diving and wheeling and dealing shows himself to be the consummate profession when the effluence hits the air conditioning (see Ian Monk's column, for further details as to how and why).

The past master of keeping stories out of the press is himself front page news. The inventor of the kiss and tell is under investigation for allegedly kissing ... well, perhaps we shouldn't go there.

Anyway, it is small wonder that he has been savaged by those he spent years manipulating.

Frankly it hasn't been a great fortnight for our business' prestige.

When sentencing former Activision senior PR manager Kathryn Kirton and ex-Frank PR associate director Jamie Kaye for fraud on 22 April, Judge John Hillen issued a damning indictment of the industry.

Hillen remarked that Kaye had been corrupted by the world in which he worked and went on to say that the case reflected the temptations on offer in the PR industry: 'In the world of PR you are surrounded by luxury items.

That is reality for people working in that industry. What is surprising is that cases like this are happening more and more often in your industry.'

PRWeek has reported cases of fraud in the industry in recent years, such as a complex embezzlement case at Next Fifteen last October and the fraud by false representation committed by Shelley Tomes when she worked at The Cult PR.

These may be isolated incidents, but they make headlines and draw unflattering attention to a profession much misunderstood and rarely rhapsodised.

So if we add corrupt comms people to the canon of loathed lobbyists, abhorred spin-doctors and detested publicists, it appears that we have something of an image problem.

Anyone care to join a debate as to how we can work together to improve the profession's standing? You know where to find me.

ruth.wyatt@haymarket.com

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