Sunday, March 05, 2006

PR Watch (Number 4)

Phil has asked me to explain paragraph 3 from the last posting.

My argument is thus: PR (Public Relations) has essentially developed into free advertising. Perhaps that's what it should be called - FA; sweet FA. Anyway, large and small companies have 'Marketing' or 'Advertising' or 'Communications' departments. If they don't then they employ some other company to do it for them. Essentially they try and sell stuff, not through advertising but through the news articles themselves - because people trust it more.

I speak from personal experience. One of my first jobs when I moved to London, ten years ago, was at 'Freud Communications'. A PR company. It was about paying idiots quite a lot to spout bullshit, to try and sell some other form of bullshit, or even the same bullshit. Bullshit dressed as 'Vache Merd' if you will. When I was working there I remember Denise Van Outen was promoting coffee or something. The people I was working with said she had broken her arm filming a TV commercial - it was lies, but it got in the national newspaper. Then there was stuff at the other, even less salubrious end of the market. KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken). Some people on the team were paid quite a lot when KFC got 'positive coverage', ie not very often. So people would try to come up with brilliant ideas of how to get positive coverage of KFC in the press. They tried, but 'Zilcho' occured. So, still bizarrely enthusiastic, they spent hours getting together clips in the press every time KFC was mentioned. The even better paid idiots on the 'KFC account' were paid a fortune to do 'Crisis Communications'. I remember one girl, who was permanently on call (had a mobile phone which was quite rare back then) and the clients (KFC) would ring her day or night for a comment every time someone got stabbed in or around a KFC - which was incredibly often. So she would effectively quosh or bury this bad news in some bullshit, trying to show what a great contribution KFC made to humanity.

I hated it. I left after two weeks.

But PR is on the increase. Just like America, with the inexorable rise of the private sector and the accompanying corruption that goes with it, bad money chases bad money. We’re all persuaded to spend more on stuff we don’t need, at the expense of the stuff which is essential, that should be free anyway. Every TV or Radio programme you watch or hear is about ‘promotion’ – promotion to make you spend money when you quite clearly shouldn’t. And who is monitoring this? Ofcom. Absolute idiots. They’re the worst perpetrators – careerist media whores, with a conflict of interest register that makes the Bible look short.

My argument is that we don’t want a society where greed and money is the main motivating factor. In fact, we want the opposite. A society where care and love for humanity and the planet motivates us. Journalism should be coming from this angle – where we’re trying to report what’s going on to help humanity.

A couple of weeks ago in Time Out I saw a little article saying that Ofcom had ruled that it’s ok for media companies to make money out of stuff they’re supposed to be independently reviewing – ie Richard and Judy selling the books they ‘review’ on their programme.

Should Lord Archer, a convicted, lying criminal be allowed to advertise his (utterly shit) book on their TV programme for free without criticism?

Health PR is even worse. At least Lord Archer’s book can be used to keep yourself warm in the energy shortages. But the disgusting scum who promote private health care and crappy drugs in the ‘free’ press are precisely that. Why don’t they tell us to campaign for a free, comprehensive NHS, give up smoking, get rid of our cars, cycle to work, eat more fresh fruit and veg and do some yoga? Because they don’t make any money out of it.

But then, just when I was slitting my wrists at work, with none other than Jesus Christ’s own PR machine working overtime, it turns out Tony Blair no less has given Trotsky a large dose of free PR – for World Book Day. Is it a joke that a biography of Trotsky is his favourite book?

I did a bit of research on the internet and it turns out that Isaac Deutscher (the guy who wrote the book) is a bit unsympathetic to our Trotsker, but it is a good book, so hopefully they’re going to reissue it so I can read it.

Talking of PR, in Computing Which they are on about a new ‘gadget’. A computer ‘book’ where you can download 200 books onto this one book sized screen thing. Brilliant idea for someone like me. I will try and get Phil on the case. That would be excellent, a way I could take loads of luggage on holiday without the weight.

One minute I hate PR (Jeffrey Archer), the next minute I love it (new portable computer book). One minute I hate free speech (the BNP), the next minute I love it (a book about Trotsky). I am sick of contradicting myself. I suppose that's how David Cameron feels, but at least he's got a new baby to take his mind off life's hypocrises.

1 comment:

Phil said...

Gadgets that allow you to read books have been around for ages. Your own PDA has a ebook reader. The trouble is the only books available are shit titles like "Empowerment a new management direction" and "Squashes and other fleshy vegetables"