NEWS: PR badge for Scouts will bring lasting value to the nation

It now seems clear that the craft of spin doctoring has come of age. The BBC’s Panorama is to examine the game and the Boy Scouts, as they were called when I wore my woggle in the 16th Calder Valley, have introduced a proficiency badge in public relations.

It now seems clear that the craft of spin doctoring has come of age. The

BBC’s Panorama is to examine the game and the Boy Scouts, as they were

called when I wore my woggle in the 16th Calder Valley, have introduced

a proficiency badge in public relations.



I can tell you now, without having seen the television programme, that

the badge will prove to be the more significant development. Indeed, I

wish to congratulate all those connected with the PR profession who have

pulled off this stunning PR coup in persuading the Scout movement to

recognise our importance. The nation can only benefit.



I personally have serious doubts about the Scouts’ choice of ‘that

quintessential PR accessory’, as the Daily Telegraph described the

mobile telephone, to depict our profession. Everyone, even rat catchers,

now has one. But it could have been worse, such as a Hooray Henry, a

nubile young lady or a glass of Bollinger. Let us not quibble. It is the

substance of the qualifications rather than the insignia which will

bring lasting value to Britain.



The curriculum is designed to provide a steady flow of honorary press

officers, who have been equipped with the basics of the job, for the

building blocks of society such as cricket clubs, Round Tables and Young

Farmers’ Clubs, not to mention local branches of political parties. It

ill behoves the media to snigger at the PR badge when they - press,

radio and TV - can only benefit from having young lads who know their

local media and how to write a press notice, which means knowing how to

recognise a story, and how to ‘place’ it in a publication.



It is a positive bonus that Scouts are to be taught how to publicise and

organise events. And my cup ran over when I discovered that they are

also to learn how to make a presentation. If only we could make it

compulsory for future business leaders to have qualified for the Scouts’

PR badge, life for us journalists and PR chappies would be far less

boring and frustrating. How many tycoons have we known who assume that

they are God’s gift to communication and treat their media audiences

with the sniffy condescension normally reserved for their roses’

horsemuck? Some presentation!



The Scouts are clearly determined to turn out youngsters who have some

proficiency in the civic arts. In the process, I hope they teach one

lesson which current political spin doctors have manifestly not learned.

In a democratic society, it is counter-productive to attack the media

for their opinions and news judgement. It puts their backs up. Facts are

sacred - and should be corrected - but comment is free.



Sir Bernard Ingham writes for the Daily Express



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