PR leaders who constantly pontificate about our industry’s impact in making the world a better place must either be delusional, engaging in some serious navel-gazing, or both.


Here’s why:

– Check out today’s major headlines, and you’ll read such scary sentences as, ‘U.S. is exploring talks with Iran on crisis in Iraq,’ ‘Russia cuts off gas to Ukraine,’ and ‘Pakistan rolls out offensive.’

Notice any mention of PR?

At the same time, my colleague, Sam Ford, just joined with leaders of other top PR firms to stop our industry’s overt, and unseemly, ‘gaming’ of Wikipedia.

That’s right, we had to issue a manifesto of sorts to promise that our colleagues would stop the hot mess of lies they routinely dump on Wikipedia each, and every, day.

Despite both realities, the top industry society, Arthur W. Page, continues to issue one feel-good white paper after another extolling the great strides we’ve made in authenticity, transparency and digital conversations.

And, our trade journalists busy themselves with handing out awards for amazingly creative erectile dysfunction pills and traipse all over Monte Carlo shouting from the most lavish villa about PR’s increasing presence at the Cannes Lion Awards program. Seriously?

I realize our industry’s association leaders and journalists are paid to talk about us but, c’mon people, we’re not ending poverty and we’re not putting any sort of dent in feeding the hungry (although our cause-related work is certainly helping in both cases). And, lord knows, we’re totally irrelevant when it comes to the major stories of the day.

So, here’s a request to the serious leaders in my field (especially to those who take themselves far too seriously). Do me, and the industry a favor: dial it down a bit.

We’re PR people, not diplomats. We help organizations communicate with constituent audiences and, hopefully, make those constituents’ lives just a little bit better when the day is done.

But, seriously, let’s stop with the hype. It’s time our leadership pauses for a second in their self-congratulatory, inward-looking tomes and level-set the hype about public relations.

We still have a long way to go before the average world citizen even understands, much less appreciates, what we do. And, as for a Cannes Lion, I’d much rather see our greatest minds provide counsel to the man in the Oval Office. He’s at sea right now and, to mix metaphors, we’re fiddling while Rome burns.

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