The credibility of our profession is at a low ebb. The initials PR may as well stand for Pretend Reality. To resort to a “PR campaign” is to desperately attempt to perfume the swine. Too often, the criticism is spot on. The charade and the charlatans are rightly ridiculed, dismissed as silly and ineffectual.
Worse, PR is sometimes viewed as malevolent, sinister even. Speaking at the International Press Freedom Awards in New York in November, Harvard’s John S. Carroll bemoaned a disturbing trend of imbalance – the diminished number of journalists (as newsrooms everywhere face budget cuts) together with the soaring number of “propagandists and PR people" worldwide. PR as despicable manipulation, shades of Goebbels.
I’m sure I wasn’t the only corporate flack in the audience who felt the slight. Those of us who are committed to a much higher standard of public relations need to do more than just complain; we need to set the record straight through our actions as well as our words. We need to be nothing less that a Force for Good at our companies and for our profession.