Would a more ‘institutionalized’ PR function have performed a more useful function of warning and advising financial institutions over the last few years?
I suspect not – because the process of institutionalization would have removed detachment from the PR function.
This comment from Richard Bailey in a recent criticism of the Euprera Congress theme on its website, and even more so if you look at another post by Richard on the same issue on his own blog and please don’t miss David Phillips angry comments there as well as Heather Yaxley’s opinion.
This of course begs a reflection on current global events and their close relationship to our profession.
A daunting task, yet the only alternative would be the three monkeys act (no see, no hear, no speak).
It is interesting, and of course only a pure coincidence, that while these comments were being posted, Jack O’Dwyer published a revealing and definitely unusual piece of news from odwyerprconcerning the totally unrelated Los Angeles subway accident, where a colleague was fired because she found the nerve to tell media what she believed to be the truth and stood by that statement.
A rare event we learned about thanks to her public position.
But I am sure many of us are aware of other similar but unmentionable cases simply because we don’t’ want them public for many good and understandable reasons.
In a way it is similar to the practice of astroturfing in social media: we only learn about the cases someone discovers and decides to reveal. No one can ever even guess how much astroturfing is going on out there…
This said, there is no doubt that many, many, many public relators in these recent years, inside and outside of financial services and banking organizations (but the same would apply also to other industries, including the non profit and public sector ones) have consistently failed to apply the fundamentals of our profession, as much as there is no doubt that, at least some other public relators, have in fact actually applied them… only we are not openly aware of it…
What does this tell us?
To me, it says that today -while everyone and her cousin from every angle of social, political, financial analysis and practice, are frantically rethinking regulatory and licensing mechanisms of their respective activities to be able to better cope with these dramatic twenty first century currents- our own professional public relations community -which has so rapidly, and however critically, expanded its role and function in organizations and overall society over these last years- appears to be, for a significant part, lost in celebrating the, however mini, brighter aspects of its traditional twentieth century practices (they believe) adapted to this century’s new challenges and constraints.
Also for these reasons the coming Euprera congress on Institutionalization should not be frowned upon with scepticism and disdain by critics.
To the contrary it should be seen as an opportunity to voice all the legitimate and justified concerns related to the institutionalization process.
Let us, only to remain on the subject, analyse the regulation issue.
As we all know very well -while the professional community stubbornly refuses to put this item seriously on its agenda- governments, soft and hard local, regional, transnational regulatory authorities, social critics and media in every country are -day in and day out- either calling for the introduction of or actually introducing or modifying existing regulations related to public relations activities in finance, environmental, health, safety, security, consumer, political and public policy influencing sectors.
I am not aware of recent studies or activities concerning this delicate issue and would truly love to hear about them.
The only one I know of is the Global Alliance study of 2003 concerning a comparative analysis of the Uk, Italy and South Africa, and more conversationally, the intense and repeated conversations about regulation in this here blog ..
Is the academic community still chanting the ‘free speech’ argument?
Are professional associations still playing the ostrich game?
If it is true that public relations is achieving increasing responsibility inside organizations of all sorts and in every part of the world, because of its growing impact on the public sphere –and Milano will prove this truth at least in the final plenary debate when Jerry Swerling from the USC Annenberg School of Communication, Ansgar Zerfass from the University of Leipzig and Emanuele Invernizzi from IULM University of Milano will report on their recent research findings– then is it not time for us, in the interest of our stakeholder publics and the public interest, not in our interest ..if not that of improving our own licence to operate and of the organizations we operate for, to actively participate as a professional community to the ongoing regulation process which is going on whether we like it or not?