Sunday 4 December 2016

Why trust is the central thrust of good PR

Michael Cullen

Published 29/10/2015 | 02:30

Gisele Bundchen by Taschen
Gisele Bundchen by Taschen

Reputation is not managed, it's an outcome achieved by PR practitioners prepared to lead. Addressing the Public Relations Institute of Ireland (PRII) annual conference, Dr Anne Gregory, Professor of Corporate Communication at the University of Huddersfield, said she was once asked why she worked in PR, to which she replied, "because PR is important".

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Public trust has become a big issue. Trust in government is appalling, so too in business, NGOs, media and even sport - a rival to Fifa could soon be formed.

Strong leadership is crucial, yet there's so little of it about. But Dr Gregory says communicating with purpose doesn't just define how a company is perceived, but also enables it. Take communications away and a company simply doesn't exist.

Accountabilities and expectations are powerful, Dr Gregory insists. Just look at Volkswagen. In the UK, people are up in arms about Google and the amount it pays in taxes. Companies and organisations may get away with bad PR and appearing not to give a damn about reputation in the short term, but not everyone forgives and forgets easily and things can come back to bite you.

Back in 1975, 17pc of value was in intangible assets but today 16pc is in financial and physical assets. PR can fill the 84pc gap once they see it as being the time to lead and challenge for a place in the boardroom. Dr Gregory quoted US president Abraham Lincoln who said character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it, the tree is the real thing. PR people must fix the tree.

Reacting to Dr Gregory's comments, Prof Niamh Brennan of UCD said she was not convinced communicating was always the answer. The wisdom of silence can at times pay dividends.

When Greenpeace accused 16 clothing companies of environmental abuse, only six of the companies engaged with Greenpeace in the belief they were better off keeping their heads down.

Journalist, broadcaster and DCU lecturer Kevin Rafter said companies have to ask themselves what's in it for them. Silence can be a strategy but a company must look at each situation and see how it affects stakeholders. John Mullins, who runs solar asset group Amarenco and is chairman at Heneghan PR, said that while he was CEO at Bord Gáis his PR manager was under firm instructions to keep him off Joe Duffy's 'Liveline'.

Pictured below at the PRII conference in the Clyde Court Hotel is Catherine Walsh of The Reputations Agency.

Q Irish advertising has been boosted by the news that a PublicisD press ad for the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) made the latest edition of the world creative showcase 'Lurzer's Archive'. The bi-monthly magazine collates and curates the best ads from around the world.

What makes it such an achievement for PublicisD is the fact that about 52,000 ads are submitted from agencies worldwide - from which only 155 are chosen. The ad, pictured, tells the story of the first keyhole surgery in Ireland and promotes RCSI's educational standards and medical feats.

The ad was art directed by Eddie Gardner and Cormac O'Connor, written by Briain Wright and illustrated by Bob Venables. The PublicisD account team of Ian McCabe and Zoe Brady worked to Paul Hurley at RCSI.

 

* Anyone in marketing or media with a few bob to spare on a special gift this Christmas may like to consider a collector's edition of a new heavyweight coffee table book on Brazil supermodel Gisele Bundchen, pictured. Gisele was 18 when she got her breakthrough in Alexander McQueen's Rain Show in 1998. McQueen chose 'The Body' as she could walk in high heels on a slippery runway. She soon graced Vogue covers in Britain and the US.

Gisele's beauty defied late-'90s grunge and was hailed as "the return of the sexy model". She has since appeared on over 1,000 magazine covers, in about 450 fashion shows and in many ad campaigns.

With over 300 photos, the collector's edition, signed by Gisele, is limited to 1,000 copies and costs €500. If money is no object, there's the art edition (100 copies) for €1,500. Published by Taschen, all proceeds from book sales go to charity.

 

* In his talk at the PRII annual conference, Dublin City Council press officer Alan Breen shared reams of media stats and mentioned the top billing social media had as Garth Brooks insisted he should be awarded a licence for five concerts in Croke Park last year. What some people referred to as the 'Showdown at the Hoedown' caused as much fuss as Thierry Henry's handball incident in Paris. But it was one fight the singer couldn't win despite much defiance and amid pleas that he loved all his Irish babies equally.

Michael Cullen is editor of Marketing.ie: cullen@marketing.ie

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