Ian Monk: Are PROs meant to be politicians?

Recent media attention has turned to the number of PR operatives and lobbyists standing for Parliament.

Ian Monk
Ian Monk

Debate has focused on how to regulate the lobbying industry effectively so that both it and the political system can operate - and be perceived to operate - honestly.

But there is another underlying question equally worthy of consideration. How far should voters embrace the idea of PROs as politicians and potential leaders?

Is it desirable to contemplate the election of swathes of individuals whose professional lives are often preoccupied with presentation rather than principle?

As PROs we are hired guns spinning one aspect of an often 'many splendour'd' truth. We learn how to dissemble, distract and disseminate versions of events so one-sided that they threaten to topple into untruth.

Usually this is necessitated by our clients' naysayers and a relentlessly hostile media.

We are hired as reputation managers to ensure a certain narrative takes precedence. Sometimes it can be the truth. Always, it is what we are hired to propagate.

True, we are free to exert a judgement over the motives of those who hire us. There have been instances of PR companies turning down briefs because of the actions of potential paymasters.

And yet it remains a fact that leaders of blatantly murderous regimes are generally represented to the world's media by skilled operators from global PR companies. So too are multinational corporations, some of whose actions are undeniably wrecking our environment in the interests of commercial gain.

They pay and PROs, mostly, take their briefs and fees.

In the media age, it is natural that the CVs of those skilled in the sometimes dark arts of PR should sit alongside those of other professionals on parliamentary candidates lists. It is also arguable that in the current post-ideological age of politics, presentation ranks higher than principle.

But, perhaps before we play fantasy politics and pick the next cabinet from the PRWeek Power Book, we should ponder on the politics of spinners as lawmakers.

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