PR needs to deal with the cause of problems, not their symptoms

Westminster Abbey, we are told has now got one. So has Buckingham Palace. And the Government is, of course, their creation. I refer to spin doctors - as anybody and everybody associated, however remotely, with an organisation’s press coverage is now called. It is even rumoured that Cleckheckmondwyke Chrysanthemum Society is about to acquire one to combat the prevailing view in West Yorkshire that the pre-show love lavished by allotment holders on these autumnal blooms is a marriage killer.

Westminster Abbey, we are told has now got one. So has Buckingham

Palace. And the Government is, of course, their creation. I refer to

spin doctors - as anybody and everybody associated, however remotely,

with an organisation’s press coverage is now called. It is even rumoured

that Cleckheckmondwyke Chrysanthemum Society is about to acquire one to

combat the prevailing view in West Yorkshire that the pre-show love

lavished by allotment holders on these autumnal blooms is a marriage

killer.



Before we know where we are we shall discover that the Tories need a

Peter Mandelson instead of a rediscovered passion to govern again. The

time has clearly come to put spin doctoring in perspective, especially

when the Prime Minister’s very own, one Alastair Campbell, attracts an

audience of bullfight proportions for his appearance in the ring with

the Select Committee on Public Administration - a hornless castrate

programmed to bow down before the Government rather than charge and toss

it. Mr Campbell emerges triumphant, the continuation of his indefensible

position as a state-funded party apparatchik still unchallenged.



Let’s start by asking ourselves what all these spindoctors have in

common.



The answer is brutal for the PR industry. They are, quite simply, a

response to extremis, whether real or imagined. Westminster Abbey feels

the need for one since a new-broom Dean fired its organist and generally

caused disaffection among choristers. A certain Caroline Cecil has been

hired to repair the damage.



With monumental stupidity, Buckingham Palace has acquired a Blairite

crony, Simon Lewis, from the gas company Centrica as its communications

secretary to show us the Queen cares when what it really needs is

someone to protect her from Mr Blair’s cynical exploitation of all

things regal.



If Mr Lewis is allowed to try out half the ideas attributed to him by

the Daily Mail - lobby briefings restricted to broadsheets, becoming a

public mouthpiece for the Queen and sending a monarch’s annual report to

every home in the land - we might as well become a republic now, with

the publicity-mad Richard Branson as head of state.



And the Government spends millions of your taxpayers’ money on a

ludicrously bloated spindoctorate because it naively believes it ended

18 years’ opposition by running the clapped-out Tories off their

presentational feet rather than because of its conversion to Thatcherite

financial prudence.



The golden thread running through these few examples of spin doctor

appointment is a self-induced crisis - a failure by the organisation to

retain unchallenged public support. In short, the PR industry remains

merely a fire brigade, not the fire prevention department. Firefighting

provides us with a good living. But fire prevention is a steadier, more

continuous earner.



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