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How Max Clifford, Malcolm Tucker and more committed the biggest PR fraud of our time

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What do Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster, David Mellor’s Chelsea strip, The Thick of It and Edina Monsoon have in common? Well, all these and more have contributed to PR miseducation. Here is my deck for Leeds Trinity’s Journalism and Media Week 2018 in which I discuss all things fact and fiction and demonstrate what we see about public relations has little in common with what the role entails today.

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How Max Clifford, Malcolm Tucker and more committed the biggest PR fraud of our time

  1. 1. “Come the fuck in or fuck the fuck off” How Malcolm Tucker and Max Clifford committed the greatest PR fraud of our time Sarah Hall @Hallmeister
  2. 2. About me
  3. 3. About #FuturePRoof A handbook for senior practitioners looking at the changing face of the industry The story of public relations as a management discipline www.futureproofingcomms.co.uk @WeArePRoofed Facebook community Podcast on iTunes and Spotify
  4. 4. What do all the following have in common?
  5. 5. They’ve all helped contribute to the greatest PR fraud of our time
  6. 6. Official definition of PR According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations: “Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. “Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
  7. 7. What we see shapes our perceptions of public relations
  8. 8. Stereotypes rule ok For example, PRs are…. Glamorous and sexy Incompetent and ridiculous Sex and the City Twenty Twelve Absolutely Fabulous The Thick Of It Manipulative and immoral Honest, speak truth to power Thank You For Smoking West Wing Absolute Power Designated Survivor
  9. 9. Roll VT!
  10. 10. The Max Clifford effect
  11. 11. Stereotypes rule ok
  12. 12. Stereotypes rule ok
  13. 13. Stereotypes rule ok “Carina hurried to her lunch meeting and then on to the various evening events that her position as a top London PR director required her to attend.” “I’m saying that you’re married to your job, which is fine, but Anastasia is your child, not your business.” Santa Montefiore, The Temptation of Gracie
  14. 14. Stereotypes rule ok – ask the academics “Public relations work in popular culture tends to be presented in line with particular tropes” Kate Fitch, Experiencing Public Relations, edited by Elizabeth Bridgen and Dejan Verčič “Just as public relations influences culture, it is also the case that culture holds up a mirror and reflects an image of public relations. And, as those who spend much time gazing into mirrors discover, the reflected image can be distorted and is often embarrassing” Philip Young, Experiencing Public Relations, edited by Elizabeth Bridgen and Dejan Verčič
  15. 15. Stereotypes rule ok – PR doesn’t help itself Prolific North – A Week in my Life
  16. 16. Stereotypes rule ok Not rocket science/fluffy Propaganda and spin Publicity and promotion Keeping things out of the media Manipulative and deceptive Leaks Sexy and glamorous PR crisis Cringeworthy
  17. 17. Stereotypes rule ok FICTION FACT Not rocket science/fluffy Strategic management function Propaganda and spin Ethical and purpose-driven Publicity and promotion Relationships and engagement Keeping things out of the media Accountable leadership Manipulative and deceptive High in integrity Leaks Open and transparent Sexy and glamorous Predominately a desk job PR crisis Organisational crisis (say v do) Cringeworthy Serious business
  18. 18. Introducing the Riz Test The Riz Test – created by Sadia Habib and named after actor Riz Ahmed who spoke in parliament on diversity and representation - challenges how Muslims are portrayed on screen A programme is deemed to be Islamaphobic if a Muslim character is: • Talking about, the victim of, or the perpetrator of terrorism • Presented as irrationally angry • Presented at superstitious, culturally backwards or anti-modern • Presented as a threat to a Western way of life • Presented as misogynistic (if male) or oppressed by her male counterparts (if female)
  19. 19. Introducing the Hall Test We need a PR version to improve the standing of our profession. The Hall Test is failed if: • Public relations is depicted as comic / fluffy / overly glamorous / champagne and event driven • Public relations is used a shorthand for propaganda or publicity • The PR character is duplicitous and underhand • A public relations professional is shown trying to keep news in the public interest out of the media • The sole basis of a PR job is media relations, event management or underhand lobbying
  20. 20. Hall’s bullshit bingo Champagne daahling! Max Clifford it Anyone called or Rupert Nasty leakage / 24/7 Event-tastic Lies and cover Press release #Alltheglamour
  21. 21. Why it’s important Public relations has a reputation problem As yet mainly unrecognised as a strategic management function which plays a significant role in organisational success It’s a profession increasing in importance in times of unprecedented change as consumers seek brands aligned with their values and moving up the corporate agenda Businesses not living their values risk being called out publicly, with the reputational damage and negative impact to the bottom line that results How we are portrayed impacts our standing in society and the work we secure
  22. 22. Official definition of PR According to the Chartered Institute of Public Relations: “Public relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. “Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
  23. 23. PR helps brands gain legitimacy “No organisation is an island. We live in a world where what you do and what your values are, are coming under increased scrutiny. “The role of communicators is to help organisations understand the legitimate expectations of all stakeholders and to help senior managers make informed decisions which demonstrate they have a social as well as a business purpose.” Professor Anne Gregory, chair in corporate communication at the University of Huddersfield
  24. 24. The founding of the CIPR Seventy years ago, the rationale for founding what was then the IPR was to achieve mutual understanding and good relations The Institute’s fathers came from local government had accountable leadership and social purpose at the front and centre of their work This higher purpose may have faded in ensuing years but have no doubt that we are returning to that original focus Good PR today places social purpose and accountable leadership at the heart of organisational strategies to drive company value over the long-term
  25. 25. What is PR’s role? Public relations practitioners help organisations find their ‘why’ and agree their ‘how’ – and most of all build long-term, sustainable relationships between an organisation and its publics based on two-way engagement, transparency, authenticity and trust It’s a critical job and takes smarts and business acumen According to the Word Economic Forum’s Survey on the Global Agenda, 86% of respondents believe there is a leadership crisis in the world today Edelman’s Trust Barometer 2018 reports that trust in business is down to 43% Only a quarter of the population now trust social media as a source of news
  26. 26. What unifies these campaigns? • Purpose-driven campaigns • An alternate position • Bravery and authenticity • Political stance • An increase in: Customer engagement Sales Customer loyalty
  27. 27. Proactive stance beats defensive • Reputation slow to build, quick to lose • Market share hard to rebuild • Social and environmental responsibility an integral part of good business
  28. 28. But none of this work is reflected in popular culture
  29. 29. PR truths • Use of public discourse and customer insight to set the organisational agenda • Consideration of environmental, social and governance matters as a path to sustainable growth • Agreement of the why and how with rationale • Meaningful stakeholder dialogue to achieve buy in • Positions on key issues such as extremism; fake news and cyberbullying (one of the greatest threats to free speech)
  30. 30. PR truths • Crisis planning • CEO activism, capitalising on rising trust in CEOs (see Edelman Trust Barometer) • Wider industry partnerships with Google, Facebook, ASA, Internet Advertising Bureau etc in the fight against fake news. The USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism 2018 Global Communications Report shows that 92% of PR executives find fake news an ethical problem for the PR profession, followed closely by purposeful distortion of the truth
  31. 31. A summary A crime has been committed – the biggest PR fraud of our time! To improve PR’s standing we need it to be portrayed accurately The Hall Test is a starting point for calling out bullshit PR is a strategic management function which contributes to organisational success. The PR truths more accurately illustrate the job Until the work we do is recognised and reflected in popular culture, PR’s reputation problem will continue to be an issue Grab your bullshit bingo cards – the work starts now
  32. 32. Thank you – any questions? Sarah Hall @Hallmeister sarah@sarahhallconsulting.co.uk www.sarahhallconsulting.co.uk 07702 162 704

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