PR and CSR departments? Ditch them, says former BP chief Browne

Companies should ditch PR and CSR departments and revert to straight talking, according to Lord Browne, the former chief executive of BP.

Ditch the PR department, says Lord Browne (pic credit Oli Scarff / PA Archive/PA Images)
Ditch the PR department, says Lord Browne (pic credit Oli Scarff / PA Archive/PA Images)

Browne was speaking to Radio 4's Today programme yesterday ahead of the publication of his new book, Connect, which discusses the need for managers to take responsibility for their companies and not hide behind PRs and CSR departments.

Asked if firms should get rid of their PR departments, Browne said: "Probably, yes. I think there’s obviously some sort of interface needed [with the media] but there’s too much which is unrelated to the reality of what is actually happening and too little understanding of how companies are affecting the different bits of society they are involved in."

Browne dismissed the suggestion that PR teams were needed to stop managers speaking off the cuff. He said: "When something goes wrong, you need to say so. Failure cannot be dressed up as a different form of success."

Browne also said CSR departments had become "divorced" from the mainstream of what their company does in real life.

He said: "One of the props that people have relied upon is corporate social responsibility, and that's allowed a lot of companies to detach the activity of communicating and being involved with stakeholders almost into a side pocket." 

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