Gini Dietrich

Call for Regulation In the PR Industry

By: Gini Dietrich | March 14, 2012 | 
161

Have I mentioned before that Spin Sucks?

No?

Huh. Well, Spin Sucks.

Particularly in the case of The Guardian, which just published a blog post titled, “Have You Ever Been Lied to By a PR?” Which, apparently, was in response to a Press-Gazette blog post, by the editor, with the same title.

The gist of it is all PR professionals (at least in the U.K., though he makes mention to all of us) are liars…or, at the very least, stretch the truth.

In my experience, PRs have not lied but several of them have been extremely economical with the truth.

And some have spun negatives into positives with a breathtakingly cavalier attitude towards the reality.

I’m not going to pretend we’re all Pollyanna and none of us are unethical. That’s just not true. But to paint all of us in this light drives me crazy.

And it’s not just The Guardian. When the New York Times reported on the new PR definition, the meta description they used was, “People submitted 927 proposals in an effort to update the definition of public relations for an age of social media and spin doctors.”

The vision of Spin Sucks Pro is to change the perception of the industry through daily professional development and education. But it’s an uphill battle when we have national, and international, media using their experiences with a handful of unethical PR professionals to perpetuate the perception we’re all liars, thieves, and spin doctors.

Perhaps part of the reason is our industry organizations (PRSA, IABC, CIPR, CPRS, IPRA, etc.) don’t regulate the industry. The barrier to entry is extremely low. Of course, every one of us is a communicator, so how hard can it be? We aren’t required to test or take boards or prove we know what we’re doing.

We can just open shop or join a company and call ourselves PR professionals.

Last May, when it came out Burson Marsteller was working with Facebook to smear Google, I was astounded. After all, they are one of the biggest and best agencies in the world. And Harold Burson, we know, wouldn’t approve.

So I called my friends at PRSA and asked why the heck they weren’t doing anything about it. After all, we’re all supposed to be working within the code of ethics – in our contracts, in our client work, and in our dealings with the public (which also includes media).

But, as it turns out, PRSA is a membership organization, which means they’re there to serve the members, but they have no authority to punish or remove professionals from the industry.

Yes, there are some unethical PR professionals. As it turns out, it’s not just in PR. There are unethical people in every profession.

Why is our industry painted in such a poor light all the time?

It’s time to regulate the industry. It looks to be the only way we can manage our own reputations.

Spin Sucks.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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