In a PR Week/NOP Solutions survey, twice as many people voted PROs more trustworthy than journalists (but not as trustworthy as lawyers)
PAUL KENDALL - Daily Mail
'Spin doctors, PROs, or whatever you want to call them are employed to lie. They're professional liars. If you put a damaging allegation to a PRO they will do everything they can to avoid telling the truth. At least journalists' raison d'etre is to get to the truth of the matter It is ironic that journalists get such a bad press. In American films and television, journalists are portrayed quite heroically, but here they are always shown as up to something and can't be trusted. The public is quite hypocritical: they always criticise journalists in surveys like this but buy their papers in droves. If they were not interested in journalists' stories they would not buy their papers.'
PAUL KELBIE - Independent
'It's down to bad PR. But we (journalists) have not done ourselves any favours. The media take a high profile themselves now, they see themselves as the story. Let's face it, the public does not have much contact with public relations people: they get their stories out through the media so PROs are covered slightly. A lot of the remedy is in our own hands: we are here to do a job but we can do it without trying to annoy people deliberately. We can be more considerate about people. Although PR people say we don't always give them credit, it's a two-way street. Every news-desk receives loads of press releases which just don't have a story and it takes a journalist to turn them into news.'
PHIL HALL - Max Clifford Associates
'PROs and journalists both probably do less well than lawyers because the public know more about them and where there is knowledge then skeletons will be found. With some justification, the public are going to think that journalists will come at a story with a particular interest, seeking to knock or expose something. They also know that journalists probably won't possess all the facts. PROs do know the facts. Sure, PROs are putting a positive side on behalf of a company but they aren't out to damage anyone. If somebody comes along to Max (Clifford) with a story in the public interest we would publicise it but we are not damaging someone. Mostly we are each as good and bad as each other. People do now have a pretty good idea about what PROs do, thanks partly to Alastair Campbell and Max Clifford, who I guess are industry icons.'
JON MCLEOD - Shandwick International
'I think the term 'public relations officer' may have slightly shielded our identity from a more adverse finding. If you had used the words spin doctor instead the figure would have gone through the floor and journalists would have come through to take a creditable second position. People have an intuitive fear of journalists because they are uncomfortable with the idea of their words or actions appearing in print. Overall that is unfair: the pressure on journalists now, with the compulsion to be professional and ethical, is greater than ever. People tend to deplore groups of professionals but when they have individual dealings they usually find that a positive experience. Every profession should be trying to explain its work to the public instead of reading too much into these figures.'