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PR firms need to cut the cr*p, says Smoking Gun Rick Guttridge

It’s all too easy for agency owners to tell current and prospective clients what they want to hear. The only problem is, the long term repercussions of misinformation can often be severe for all parties involved.
Today many PR and social media practitioners  (go on, I dare you to call them gurus, mavens, or ninjas; no really, I double dare you) will lecture clients about the need for openness and transparency. Yet amazingly many will also fail to heed their own ‘wise’ words.
And this is especially true when dealing with new business enquires, award entries, number of office locations, staff levels and those prized industry league tables. Like Prolific North’s ‘definitive’ list of the north’s leading public relations agencies, for example. Peruse it at your leisure here.
What sets this apart from the North West Business Insider annual PR list, or even the national PR Week equivalent, is that it uses figures from Companies House. This means, in this instance, the information on revenues, profitability and number of fee earning employees provided by the firms themselves hasn’t been taken as gospel.
Yet despite those facts, I’ve a sneaky suspicion some of the staff numbers still fell slightly on the little white lie side of forthcoming. Which is ridiculous, given all agencies understand the prevalence of tools such as LinkedIn, with its 4million UK users and counting, which allow anyone to quickly discover the truth behind all those bold statements.
To put a fine point on it then, it’s time for PR professionals to start taking their own advice. It would be bad and altogether risky practice to recommend a client sells products or services based on false claims, so why should we think it’s acceptable to do the same thing? Especially when the industry itself is fighting for legitimacy against accusations of spin ruining the media and Tory ministers lifting the lid on lobbying secrets. It’s tough enough that we’re now also fighting digital specialists for our briefs, as well as advertising and media agencies for social media work, so surely cutting the cr*p is long overdue to stop us from undermining ourselves any further?

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