OPINION: The Big Question - If you became prime minister what would you do for the PR industry? As you read this, the outcome of the election will be known and, unless you're Tony Blair, it is unlikely you won. We can all dream

Chris McLaughlin

Callahan Associates

'The first thing would be to tax "IT girls who do a bit of PR" out of

existence. I'd imprison boys who offer sexual holidays to Arab

businessmen. These people make us all look like a bunch of

under-punching amateurs who suck-up to clients rather than people who

should be advising chief executives. I'd make the whole lobbying process


My government would abandon the use of spin - PR is about news

management not personal reputation. We also need to be more grown-up

about what PR is. You don't hire a firm of lawyers to go out and slap

writs on everyone - so why hire PR people to "get coverage" without

asking "do we need to be there, what are we trying to say, and, does our

company stand scrutiny?".'

Tony Baker

The Tony Baker Consultancy

'I'd introduce a three point self-funding plan. First, I would levy a 25

per cent tax on all advertising to fund the other two initiatives. The

second would be to set up a UK media complaints body called the Media

Unfairness Complaints Kingdom - MUCK - made up of PR practitioners and a

few others (no journalists, though). If anybody complains that a

newspaper or broadcaster has misrepresented them, they can complain to

MUCK. Guilty parties would be forced to publish press releases from the

complainant in full (but I wouldn't rule out draconian measures for

repeated offences, such as the imprisonment of editors).

I wouldn't change anything within the PR industry as we're all wonderful


Kieran Moore

Firefly Communications

'I would commission a multi-million-pound PR and ad campaign and

fly-on-the-wall documentary that would dispel the myth that PR is about

women lying on cars in bikinis, cigarette girls, tabloid sensationalism

and spin-doctoring and instead convince people it's a professional


The likes of Ab Fab give the impression we sit around sipping champagne

all day. People need to be shown what we really do. The main thing that

needs to be tackled within the industry is training and development -

one reason PR has had a bad name is that it hasn't taken the initiative

on that side of things. I think I would also work hard to make sure the

industry got chartered status so that it's seen as being in line with

other professional services.'

Matt Turmaine


'We'd need to sort out the perception of spin doctors. Government PR has

a bad reputation so perhaps we should send Alastair and Peter on some

media training courses. The easiest way to benefit the PR industry - as

any industry - is to introduce barriers to entry. I'd set the entry

levels high enough that we'd be getting salaries on a par with

barristers. On a more serious note, an important thing would be to

ensure communications is properly represented in education. If we can

reduce the divide between knowledge workers and service workers it would

contribute not only to the economy but also to the PR industry. You can

see what happens when 14-year-olds get their hands on a mobile phone -

the more that communications technology is available for all, the better

for everyone.'

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