LEADER: Time to celebrate those heavy hitters

If the PR profession still suffers from a collective crisis of confidence, flicking through this week's magazine should provide a welcome dose of self-esteem.

This issue of PRWeek sets out to champion the high achievers within public relations, and provides a fas­cinating glimpse of the array of issues they tackle, from creating under­stan­ding about the situation in Iraq to dealing with a rail crash in Cumbria.

The Power Book, enclosed herewith, offers an insight into the people who drive the profession forward. It comprises high achievers - both in-house and in the coun­try's leading consultancies - and they give us some col­ourful thoughts on their lives and careers.

Meanwhile ‘Britain's most powerful' highlights the awesome influence of those who work at the upper echelons of public life in the UK. It is a fairly thankless task trying to work out which PR people actually wield most influence, particularly when one is comparing political strategist Steve Hilton with City PR entrepreneur Charles Watson, but we did it anyway.

And it is a big step forward from The Guardian's Media 100, which, laughably, included just two PR people last year.

Too often PR is dismissed as a ‘fluffy' or dishonest part of working life - and yet the crisis management feature and the profile reveal individuals that are charged with handling a baying pack of journalists at a London hospital Or with communicating with the trav­elling public during a terrorist attack.

This is not to say that all is perfect. The Bernard Matt­hews bird flu crisis response showed major flaws, as did Channel 4's handling of the Celebrity Big Brother rac­ism row. And we find some top journalists openly cri­tical of the access - and information - they are given in military situations.

But it is only by exposing itself to such criticism and scrutiny that the industry can continue to progress in such an encouraging way.

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