Opinion: Let's make our conflicts of interest clear

There's only one thing worse than being a warm-up artist and that's being the stand-in. As Kate Nicholas will be offstage for a few months, I am her temporary replacement. What can I tell you that will hold your attention each week? Doubtless you are as opinionated as I am, and will want to hear views about aspects of the PR world from someone who has 'been there'. I can tick the box on that count, having been in PR in the UK for 20 years, both in-house and as a consultant. I'm keen to see our business move higher up the moral food chain than it has been, certainly as far as journalism is concerned.

Why? Because what we do is as valuable as it is visible; because journalism is largely stuck in a time warp, regarding itself as superior to PR in the truth-telling department. In fact, both professions should be telling the truth about their failings as well as their strengths.

I helped establish the first MA in PR at the London College of Printing to get PR recognised as a serious field with a future that will only get bigger in the marketing communications mix. Will we eclipse marketing and advertising? It's possible.

My day job is running an independent PR consultancy. I consider it important that you know I'm not going to use this space to shamelessly plug my clients (tempting though that may be). So I'm going to attempt to practise what I often preach in terms of transparency: I'm going to make it clear every time I mention an individual or an organisation with which I have a connection.

This content-labelling is something I'd be interested to see some of the time across all media. At least this approach is better than 'book reviewer syndrome' - the national literary pages tend to be littered with good or bad book reviews depending on whether the reviewer concerned is a friend or foe of the author.

So how about a little coding to help the reader along the way? VIP could mean Vested Interest: Professional, with a further description of VIS for Social connections. I could, for example, say that I think what IPR president Anne Gregory is doing is great, but be clear that she's VIP to me - that I have a vested professional interest in saying this because I have been invited to her roundtable group to discuss media ethics and trust issues.

If you consider my content-labelling a case of oversharing, I am sure you will email your disapproval. We may even have to bring down the curtain on this approach. My audience with you starts here.

Kate Nicholas is on maternity leave.

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