PR for PR: How We Can Mend Our Reputation 

It’s no secret that public relations gets a bad rap. The latest Gallup Poll rating industries with the best and worst reputations, placed the advertising and public relations industry at the bottom of the list, above only pharmaceuticals, the federal government and healthcare.

We asked our board members what can be done to help change this perception. Here’s what they had to say: 

“Instead of dishing with our friends and families, we should talk about the great work we’re doing in the industry. Let’s get a word-of-mouth campaign going to set the record straight on the positive impact we have with stakeholders. How our clients make a difference in the communities where we live and work. How they contribute to the environment. How they make audiences’ lives easier and more fulfilling. The more we can show our positive sides, the more we can help set the record straight.”

Amy Shanler  /  Boston University

“Journalism is more respected when it follows traditional codes of ethics. Public relations must do the same. We need to enforce our codes of ethics and make it clear that firms are not to engage in pay to play, greenwashing, conflicts of interest, and predatory tactics. What do we tell our clients in crisis mode? Want to look good? Do good.”

John Guilfoil  /  JGPR

“Consumers don’t like feeling tricked or duped by ads or brands they have trusted in the past. As PR pros working with consumer brands, we need to keep honesty and truth at the forefront of what our brands communicate to consumers. We have started to see brands shift toward being more vulnerable and honest over the past few years, as many have seen success in presenting themselves as imperfectly human (i.e. fast food brands personifying themselves on Twitter), which may be a step in the right direction of rebuilding trust in our industry.”

Allison Salzberg  / 360PR+

“I think that the advertising and public relations industries are perceived as being inauthentic, so we as practitioners need to find ways to combat that perception. Whether you’re executing a global ad campaign or telling a local brand story, make sure your message is authentic and resonates with your audience on a deeper level.”

Caitlin Snider  /  CTP

“Reporters and the public can smell an untruth from a mile away. Our industry needs to abandon the notion of spin and work with our clients to ensure they’re consistently communicating in a transparent and honest fashion with their external audiences. This is true in the good times and the bad.”

Kathy Wilson  /  Tier One Partners