It’s time for PR to shake off its Ab Fab image



PR needs to do its own PR in 2017 says Rob Brown, Vice President of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Here he reveals why.

“We still have some way to go to shake off the image of Siobhan Sharpe, Patsy and Edina and Malcolm Tucker. But we can achieve that,” states CIPR Vice President Rob Brown.

“The more we talk about standards of professionalism, the greater the opportunity. The current climate demands a renewed focus on professional development.”

The year 2016 was dominated by Brexit, Trump and fake news – laying bare a divided society in which trust in politics, journalists and the corporate world reached a low ebb.

Rob, Managing Partner at PR firm Rule 5, believes that this trust has been eroded because society finds it increasingly difficult to know where to turn for accurate information.

But he has a solution – PR.


“In a world where it’s difficult to know who to trust, public relations professionals could play a vital role in helping organisations and businesses navigate the tempestuous waters,” he said.

“There is still a problem, however. Many business leaders and journalists would break into howls of laughter at the notion that PR people deliver information that is both truthful and accurate.

“We haven’t yet shaken off the reputation that the PR industry has acquired for spin. We can bring clarity in complex times, but we need to do more to persuade the wider community.”

Rob believes that, in a world where everyone can publish, putting a gloss on a story can do more harm than good. He also believes it is the job of PR people to explain this reality to business leaders.

However, until the image of Ab Fab and its ilk can be shaken off, this will be a hard task to achieve.


“We can’t help in our duty to provide strategic council and support organisations in making sense of ourselves and the world around them if we don’t build trust,” he said.

“But, in order to build trust we must demonstrate that we are committed to. The CIPR’s goal is to have half of our 10,000 members become Chartered Practitioners within a decade.

“We know that in times of confusion and ambiguity communications plays a paramount role, so the opportunity for public relations is therefore very significant.

“If we are to take that opportunity and deliver, we need to do our own PR and this includes raising the reputation of the industry.”


** Rob is tipping video as the future of PR in 2017. YouTube currently has in excess of four billion video views a day, while Facebook claims more than double that.

“The analytics are irrefutable, video drives views. For that reason, newspapers want video. People want to see and hear stuff rather than read it,” he said.

“Press releases and email remain valuable. Still images are not going away, but there is an inexorable rise in video content. It is a lexicon we must understand and adopt.

“It’s a daunting prospect but an exciting one. With the ability to go straight to the consumer via owned media channels, PR has never had a more pivotal role in communications.

“Change doesn’t stop and video is the future, for the time being.”

*** Read more of Rob’s views in #FuturePRoof2, on Twitter @robbrown and online at ***


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