Time for government to stop kicking PR
Now is not a good time to be a PR person involved with government. In many political quarters PR people seem to be vying with bankers for the role of most hated profession. And, given the profession’s relative lack of financial influence, often PR is the easiest target for a kicking.
Strange, given that if the last government was led by lawyers this one, from the Prime Minister down, is led by the so-called dark arts of spin.
Anyway, I’m not going to debate whether government has previously spent wisely on PR, but the current risk is that cutting it all throws the baby out with the bath water.
This is particularly true when it comes to local government PR. PR Week reports that Communities Secretary Eric Pickles is going to name and shame local councils that use PR consultancies, which he dubs “an outrageous waste of taxpayer’s cash.”
Clearly, in straitened times, every expense needs to be scrutinised. But, in the main, local government isn’t using mega-bucks PR firms for support or lobbying. Councils are using local agencies to help get their message across to citizens in a cost-effective and compelling way. With internal headcount squeezed, spending £1.5k a month with a PR agency gives a lot more bang for the buck than employing a junior PR person within the council. Hell, that’s (allegedly) less than a binman earns.
Pickles’ current onslaught may well scare local councils out of properly researched and costed PR campaigns, hit the very local agencies that understand and rely on this work and lead to uninformed and consequently disinterested citizens. Time for his PR bosses Dave and Nick to have a word……….