Thursday, 4 February 2010

If you give it away it has no value!

One of the biggest issues PR faces as an industry is credibility. In part, I suspect that comes from the fact that the most high profile characters in our industry are probably the celebrity PRs, such as Max Clifford and Phil Hall.

I have enormous respect for what both do, but because it is high profile it tends to dominate the PR landscape and people assume that this is what PR is all about. To the cynics my job is a few quick calls to the papers and then off to the wine bar.

Let me give you an example. I have a friend who is a commercial lawyer in London (his actual job title is Multi-Jurisdictional International Trade Litigator) who delights in asking me what I have done with my day and, before I can answer, usually says something like "sitting in a wine bar quaffing Chardonnay presumably."

As it happens, I've probably met more CEOs than he has (when I point this out he gets huffy) but in his world he is a power player protecting the UK's commercial interests with the simple sword of truth, whilst I am busy organising photoshoots for Katie Price.

It was with some dismay therefore that I found out yesterday that a well-known PR company has come up with the strategy of offering free PR for a 3-6 month period in order to snag new clients. Now I know times are tough but I can't think of a quicker way to destroy credibility than to go down that route.

I remember once having a conversation with the MD of a major UK building products company. I asked him what he thought of the idea of a free environmental audit. His answer was succinct, "free equals worthless."

As one former colleague, whom I would describe as my only mentor, once said to me, "the biggest problem with this job is that everyone thinks they can do it."

If we give away our services free of charge that won't change.


  1. As the words are only half the story, does that mean this well-known PR company will be contacting us soon to ask us to supply photography free of charge too? Or will they just do half a job and not bother with the photos? A foolhardy approach that doesn't do the industry or themselves any favours in the long run.
    Simon Apps
    Professional Images

  2. It's a good question. I guess free means free right!? So clearly your future is as doomed as ours!
    Jane Ainsworth