Times journalist Matthew Parris admitted to IPR conference
delegates last week that his much criticised Channel 4 programme
attacking the PR industry had been ’unfair’.
The programme, called Bad Ideas of the 20th Century - PR-ism, provoked a
furious response from the PR industry when it was first shown in
Parris was taken to task on C4’s Right to Reply by the then PRCA
chairman Quentin Bell, who also made a complaint to the ITC.
’I reviewed the Channel 4 programme before I came here and I decided
that it wasn’t particularly good and I don’t think it was fair,’ said
Parris in his after dinner speech to the conference delegates. ’It did
contain some important points, but the arguments could have been better
But the former MP turned political sketch writer did not pull all his
punches. He warned that an increasingly media literate and PR-wise
public was ’wary of anything slick, facile or packaged’, and urged PR
people to allow the client’s character to show through ’warts and all’
Parris also derided New Labour for being ’too obviously image
’The public is resistant to being manipulated,’ he said. ’When people
see image makers at the heart of Government they ask why Tony Blair
needs these people.’
Parris also cited a diverse band of PR role models including former
Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, Richard Branson, Swampy the road protester,
footballer Vinnie Jones and the Queen Mother. ’The Queen Mother last
gave an interview in 1919, but it hasn’t harmed her image,’ he said.