Opinion: Leader - Negative coverage of PR a major worry

Those hoping for an improvement in the coverage of PR in the media will have been disappointed to see the findings from Echo Research at this week's PR & The Media conference. The tone of coverage declined yet further last year, with favourable and neutral coverage down, and unfavourable coverage filling the gap.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the David Kelly affair accounted for much of the surge in both the volume of coverage and the collapse in its tone.

It is, of course, to be hoped that the boil has now been lanced. It may be that the departure of Alastair Campbell (the subject, fairly or not, of much of the negative comment) from the Government will usher in a new era of fair reporting of the PR business.

But most worrying for those with an interest in PR being taken seriously is the almost total disappearance of mentions of PR in connection with business leaders considering it either important or valued. This is the challenge that needs to be addressed.

Cassani media criticism undeserved

It is a much-commented-on aspect of UK public life that too much success inevitably invites media hostility. So it has turned out with Barbara Cassani, the US-born chairperson of London's 2012 Olympic bid.

It was reported this week that Cassani has entered a legal spat with The Daily Telegraph over negative comments about the Prime Minister attributed to her in that newspaper's diary column, which she denies having made.

Furthermore, it is claimed that the PR firms pitching this week for 2012's business have all expressed doubts over her role in the campaign and suggested she could actually cost London votes among the all-important International Olympic Committee.

Needless to say this is firmly denied by sources at London 2012, and it is not hard to see why. Cassani has an ability to inspire dedication among her fellow travellers. The case that, in PR terms, she is a liability rather than an asset, is a difficult one to make.

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