Ouch, that hurts: Economist comment underscores negative perception of PR

The Economist published a commentary on Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Saturday.  While criticizing the Republican nominee, they also managed to bash the industry of public relations.

But competence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character. Would that Candidate Romney had indeed presented himself as a solid chief executive who got things done. Instead he has appeared as a fawning PR man, apparently willing to do or say just about anything to get elected.

Wow, really?

I’m not going to address their assessment of Mr. Romney’s character.  My problem is with The Economist equating PR with insincerity, lack of character, and “fawning.”  As a public relations practitioner, I have to say, that hurts.  And I don’t think it’s fair.

I’m not surprised, though.  The Economist published a scathing opinion piece about PR last year.  Probably not their first, now that I think of it, and probably not their last, either. I guess the $10 billion public relations industry is one they love to hate.

You would think that, given its editorial stance, The Economist does not sully its hands with public relations professionals.  Ah, but it does.  It employs both in-house communications professionals and public relations agencies, including Speed Communications in London, Edelman Public Relations in Hong Kong, and Cape Public Relations in Australia.  They spend many thousands of dollars on good ol’ PR, if you want to know the truth.  Together, these “PR men” — and women — work to  handle responsibilities, including

  • Overseeing media relations and blogger relations for The Economist.
  • Developing public relations strategies for The Economist magazine’s editorial content and for The Economist Group’s product and business launches.
  • Positioning reporters as subject matter experts.
  • Providing media training to journalists and executives.
  • Creating the in-house television and radio studio.
  • Monitoring the value of media coverage.

Hmm, I don’t see “fawning” mentioned among their many important responsibilities, however.  Now, editors, would you care to rephrase that comment?

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About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on August 27, 2012, in Public Relations Tips and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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