Parris presses for a ’less packaged’ PR approach

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’.

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

1994.



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

made.’



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’

instead.



Parris also derided New Labour for being ’too obviously image

driven’.



’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.



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