Ashamed and embarassed…or loud and proud?

July 16, 2007

Sweaty palms. Nervous gulp. Burning cheeks.

Yep, someone’ s just asked you what you do for a living, and you’ve got to own up to being Satan’s spawn.

Private equity? Nowhere near as bad. Traffic warden? Positively saintly. Hell, even solicitors are more popular.

That’s right, you work in PR.

Who’s to blame for this image [and ironically], reputation issue? The FT certainly thinks it needs addressing to judge by their Weekend editorial.
Well, some might point fingers at Alistair Campbell, although we’d defend him to the hilt, being fanboys of the power behind the New Labour throne. Others would point to a fundamental mis-understanding by the public of the nature of PR and its different functions and divisions. Perhaps its just good old-fashioned British scepticism of any industry producing non-tangible output.

I’d suggest we should look closer to home. Have you ever explained to your friends what you actually do? About the variety in your job? Discussed the career paths available? Nope, didn’t think so. You have, however, probably cracked self-deprecating jokes about employing the dark arts of spin, about an ambiguous relationship with the truth, and [if male] about what a great industry it is for eye-candy.

Not really the sort of stuff to gain you a reputation for being part of a vital area of the economy, performing a valuable service, and deserving of the finest talents.

It probably isn’t fair to beat ourselves up too much though. Journalists have a perennially uneasy relationship. The lines dividing us are paper thin at times, the skill sets not enormously different, and many journos crossover to ‘the dark side’. Understandably they like to write about PR, and not [often] in a flattering way. A bit like the playground, with boys and girls calling names at each other, when- if no-one’s watching- pretences are dropped and everyone gets along like a house on fire, regardless of gender [or industry].

So, next time you’re asked what you do for a living, beat back the blushes, and in your loudest, proudest voice, announce;

‘I’m a communications consultant’

That’s bound to do the trick, and we’ll be celebrated in no time.


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