Remember that scene in Bridget Jones’s Diary where Daniel says, “You don’t have the faintest bloody idea of just how much trouble the company’s in. You swan in, in your short skirt and your sexy see-through blouse and fanny around with press releases.”?
My heart sank the first time I heard that dialogue. “That’s it,” I thought, heart sinking. “That’s exactly what people think that public relations is all about.”
I had the exact same feeling earlier when I read the Isle of Man Newspapers’ story Cost of PR in spotlight as VAT crisis takes hold.
Here’s one gem: “David Cannan (Michael) questioned whether it was an appropriate expenditure of public money to engage external consultants to draft and publish media releases.”
Could he possibly sound more like Daniel? My heart sinks.
Here’s another great sound bite: “Mr Cannan said departments with senior executives earning more than £60,000 a year were asking outside consultancies to draft and publish many publications – and he was pleased to hear ‘this nonsense is going to stop’.”
The article also makes reference to advertising agencies, government subsidies for Manx Radio and the government’s media spend with Isle of Man newspapers.
So clearly, for Mr Cannan, PR professionals do spend their time fannying about with press releases. For others, PR is a catch all term for anything remotely related to media. Also, the article focuses entirely on costs and ignores value.
This is a great same, indeed. Because now, perhaps more than ever before, the Isle of Man needs to communicate well.
Public relations professionals are experts in human and organisational communication. The best of us provide strategic advice and services so that our clients can build positive relationships with the people they depend upon for success.
I’m not saying that the government gets excellent value for every pound spent. I doubt this is the case. But at least there is recognition of the value of communications expertise.
There are people all over the world who would love nothing better than to shut down ‘Isle of Man plc’ and the battle for survival will be won or lost in the court of public opinion, not in a court of law.
Right now, for the Isle of Man, the stakes couldn’t be higher nor the communications challenges more complex.
This is no time for amateurs.
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