Gordon Brown (and the Financial Times) is at it! What should we do?

I feel like blogging this lovely Sunday morning from my terrace over the charming bay of Italy’s Porto Ercole and am musing over the issue I wish to address
…possibly a comment on my NYU online masters students of the global relations and intercultural communication course I am experiencing these days now that I have arrived half way through, and why it is such an exciting learning experience for me…when my old friend Richard Linning barges into my e-mail box, through the Ipra members yahoo group, with a link to the FT‘s comment which I had not read of July 13 on Gordon Brown’s candid reaction to Alistair Campbell’s recent memoirs.
Here we go!, I say to myself, recalling a recent post in which I anticipated that Brown’s much touted inability to communicate would drive him to spin an antispin campaign and that the CIPR is in for a hell of a ride.
Mind you! On the same day in which my, by now half-brother, Colin Farrington, now Chairman of the Global Alliance, was correcting, finetuning and proof reading the excellent new issue of the GA newsletter prepared by our brilliant portuguese co blogger Joao Duarte and new executive officer of the alliance.
I will not comment now, but want to read your immediate reactions..what would you suggest to Colin?

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3 Replies to “Gordon Brown (and the Financial Times) is at it! What should we do?

  1. Colin,
    I do not believe that an antispin initiative by your prime minister would necessarily be negative for the cipr nor did I write this.
    I just cautioned to be prepared and, I now add, to take this eventuality as an excellent opportunity to express in even louder terms than you have done sofar, the difference between public relations and spin.

    Obviously this has consequences, because vocally distancing public relations from spin implies that one ‘walks the talk’… which has little if any bearing with the thought that cipr is involved in spinning (never came to my mind)… but that cipr members, particularly now that you are a chartered institute, do so and be indidividually vocal within their organizations and consultancies against those who do.
    In more specific terms I believe that the upcoming London World Public Relations Festival could be a tremendous platform from which to institutionalize this stance, thus giving force and inspiration also to all the other associations around the world who will be participating.
    I would certainly prefer an opening address by gordon brown inviting the cipr and the global alliance in an anti spin partership, rather than a member of the royal family give us his/her welcome to england (not that I am against the royal family or its welcome…

  2. Toni,

    Thanks for your kind words and let me take the opportunity to leave a direct link for the new Global Alliance Newsletter (http://www.globalpr.org/news/newsletters/GA-newsletter-july2007.pdf).

    Comenting on the FT article, appart from the reference to Gordon Brow (and I hope Colin is right in interpreting it as a mere political rethoric move to attack his opponent and not as the expression of a consequent view about PR), it goes right to a point which so many PR conferences debate: the need for new paradigms for concepts and for the practice of Public Relations.

    When we talk about the need to change from a “communication-to” approach to a “communicating with” approach, about alternative views on publics, about the link between transparency and trust and many other themes, we’re in a sense talking about the same need.

    Moreover, the article touches a point which you have made previously about the need that PR professionals help to de-polute this saturated communicative environment. And the recent Environmental Conference in Bled failed to bring up this issue which is perhaps one of the best ways we can directely contribute to the quality of our world!

    So to tackle your question I would say that one of the things we should do is to be aware that many of the so called “critics” of PR would probably very much agree with many of the changes “we” are trying to introduce.

  3. I think we should distinguish between the ‘rough and tumble’ of British politics and the underlying issues.

    When an American friend commented to me a while ago that the election as leader of the Conservative party of Mr Cameron, with his background as corporate affairs director (and arguably thus a public relations man, if as far as I know, an unqualified one) was ‘good for our business’ I said that regrettably it would undoubtedly be used against him. So it has turned out. To use ‘pr man’ as an insult in political badinage in UK is largely a result of the Alastair Campbell years, although I think Harold Wilson used it too – and no-one was more adept at ‘spin’ than him.

    As far as Gordon Brown is concerned he has made some welcome changes to the organisation of No 10 and all the signs are that, political exchanges aside, he understands the need for a more mature approach to communication. I might add that his wife Sarah was herself a distinguished pr practitioner (and member of the IPR Council) so he will have close counsel on the issue. Let not the jury rush to judgement.

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