COMMENT: PLATFORM; Why this cause celebre has done PR a favour

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

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

compliment.



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

stayed together?



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

tool.



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

under-represented.



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



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