EDITORIAL: PR Council needs to speak for everyone

A delegation of US legal eagles come to you and tell you they are

worried their profession is seen in a dim light by the media and

misunderstood by the public. They feel that the ambulance chasers within

their ranks bring the profession into disrepute and make it harder to

recruit top-quality lawyers into the mid-size firms, thus limiting the

industry's potential. How would you advise them to change, and then

represent themselves to existing and potential clients and the

public?



Would you suggest that before trying to achieve change, they split

themselves into different groups depending on whether they are members

of a legal firm or members of corporate legal departments, where they

are located geographically, and the size or specific agenda of their

firms or departments?



Surely not, because you would recognize that to raise ethical and

professional standards in that diverse profession you need a single

standard-bearing body to which everyone in the industry can turn for

advice. You would also recognize that you are far more likely to be able

to get a clear message to clients about the industry's capabilities and

professionalism if one body coordinates those messages.



Drawing up standards for the profession; researching its perception in

the marketplace; attracting the right type of talent through outreach to

students; sharing best practice; promoting the profession; lobbying over

legal and governmental issues that affect the profession, all are best

achieved through one body that can coordinate and eliminate conflicts in

both action and message. And most PR pros would surely emphasize this

point as fundamental to the legal profession's strategy.



For this reason it would be a big blow to the development and perception

of the PR industry if it were to create yet another body at this time

(see Analysis, p. 9). If small firms are not getting what they need from

the - still relatively young - Council of Public Relations Firms, then

they need to lobby the Council and ensure that they are catered to. In

turn, the Council needs to take the opportunity of a new president, new

executive, and new board to take a serious look at the small firms'

issues.



But the industry will not benefit from a bunch of small firms breaking

away and forming yet another organization. There are already quite

enough different associations pursuing enough different agendas. The

industry has to decide what is more important: pursuing individual

interests and flattering individual egos, or raising the professional

bar and ending the use of PR as a negative term.



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