The Mandy Allwood case may not be ideal but at least it has shown
society that PR is a way to get results, says Kevin Moloney
Mandy and Max - a PR alliance for people in need?
‘I guess that it was a sign of the times that the first person she
contacted was her gynaecologist and the second was the PR agent’ - Max
Clifford quoted in the Independent about his client Ms Mandy Allwood who
is expecting eight children after fertility treatment.
Max is right about the order of contacts by Mandy being a sign of the
times. Today, in a media-saturated, pluralistic, competitive society, PR
is a powerful form of advocacy. We should take Max’s comment as a
I don’t comment on Mandy’s particular order of reaching for the phone
but such a priority is usually wrong: husband, parents and priests
should come before the PRO. There is a dangerous mis-ordering of values
when proper attempts to secure an income for such a large family come
before the support of intimates and moral advisers.
Max should be up there - about the fifth to be phoned. A minute’s
reflection by any parent with 2.4 children shows that very large
families need much more money. The economic history of extra-large
families appears to be largely based on baby food and clothes
sponsorships and donations. Without it, how could those families have
But what does second or fifth place say about public relations in
the1990s? First of all, let’s be in no doubt that it is public relations
which is the topic being inspected by public opinion.
Corporate communications blue suits of the London establishment and
academic grey beards may argue that Max is not in public relations. But
for the man in the street, that denial has all the conviction of the
modern communist pooh-poohing the power of markets.
One can be intuitively sure that clients and trainee practitioners of
suits and beards would love the exceptional amount of public attention
for their cause and therefore the extra leverage to win advantage.
The Mandy and Max alliance seems to me to be saying that our activity is
exceptionally widely perceived by both poor and rich as an effective
Each PR Week edition reports how powerful individuals and corporate
interests use PR to their advantage. It is good to see it used by the
poor and less powerful.
Their alliance suggests a new zone for PR growth: us as communications
and negotiating experts helping aggrieved citizens, along the lines of
legal aid lawyers. Why not a national network of one-stop PR shops in
every high street?
Individuals and community groups have endless run-ins with public and
private decision-makers and their bureaucracies. Ask any MP or community
solicitor. PR advice and customised campaigns represent another route -
apart from Parliament and the Courts - to help the under-privileged and
What these fellow citizens, and ourselves, need is redress of
grievances; assertion of rights; advancement of self-interest and
levelling of playing fields. Are these not the sort of results clients
seek from readers of this journal?
Mandy may have phoned Max too soon. But she knew where to turn to be
heard and heeded about a vital matter.
Kevin Moloney is a public relations lecturer at Bournemouth University