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HMC NEWS: PR - Something wicked this way comes?

PR: Something wicked this way comes?

Every day, calculating, evil PR professionals sit at a their antique oak desks in leather swivel chairs, rubbing their hands together in glee as they think about the millions they're making from twisting truths and perpetuating lies. They think, "This is so much fun! Look at ALL THE MONEY WE MAKE FROM YOU, you silly, silly publics."

It's no secret PR professionals feel like they're getting the short end of the stick right now. It's because we are. And one comment in Karl du Fresne's 19 June article in The Listener on the state of New Zealand's media landscape made me angry enough to feel I needed to say something. He wrote: "Many redundant journalists have found lucrative work in corporate and government communications, further tilting a playing field that increasingly favours PR spin and information control over the public's right to know."

Public Relations Institute of New Zealand president Katie Matheson recently wrote about the "unjustifiably bad rap PR gets," and HMC Communications Director Heather Claycomb wrote about her dismay with fellow countryman The Don's propensity to only use his PR team to "clean up behind him" instead of, you know, telling them what he's up to.

Some other things PR gets blamed for: the price of butter, the lack of available car parks and the weather.

Oh, sorry, they don't. That was just me doing the PR spin thing. See how easy it is to make you believe what I say?

On the weekend I was asked if, in my job, I scoured the internet looking for chatrooms (people still go on those?) and social media pages to write "positive comments" about my clients as an alias.

Another time I was asked if I spend my days "trying to keep my clients out of the newspaper when they've been running around naked." True story.

But as an ethical PR practitioner (yes, those people exist) the first thing I'd be asking my naked client is "do you think that's a good use of your time and mine?"

Because the very first thing a PR professional does is ask questions. Namely, "Do you think this is gonna go down well? You don't? Neither. Let's see if we can think of some ways that tell people who we are and what we do, authentically."

When doing their jobs right, PR professionals lead from the front to communicate truth, dispel myth, uncover deception, educate, keep people safe in a tragedy and apologise when things go wrong.

We're the first to know that something's not going to fly with an audience.

And sometimes, no matter how hard we try, not everyone listens to us. But that's OK, because aside from all the hand-rubbing and money-grubbing, we kind of like what we do.

Telling a client's story, helping them build relationships and strengthen their reputations is a privilege, and we wouldn't be good PR people if we were encouraging their naked flights of fancy.