Public relations is poorly understood.
Much of that is due to the dramas and sitcoms detailing wild story arcs of spin doctors, the dark arts, and political influence.
In reality, practitioners are mostly people trying to share their clients’ good news.
Right now we could do with more PR, not less.
Open up a newspaper. Browse a news website. Watch the 6 o’clock bulletin.
You’ll be confronted by a wall of bad news.
The daily government press conferences provide newsrooms with easy content. And there’s never a shortage of dour epidemiologists to talk to about their newly updated models and grim forecasts.
Add to that anything non-Covid the Government presents at the daily stand-up, and the news agenda is set.
Spare a thought for any PR person trying to pitch a positive story in this environment.
Bad news sells. And at the moment, there seems to be plenty of it.
But it’s all started to feel a bit samey.
Pre-pandemic, the news would follow a familiar recipe.
The 6 o’clock broadcast would contain a carefully curated mix of bad news stories from far-flung countries, a well-known firm or individual punching above their weight on the international stage, and a fair amount of quaint, quirky, and quintessentially Kiwi tales to inspire and delight.
Endless negativity and bleak forecasts can’t be the new normal.
We have to find a way to return to the feel-good stories we never knew we needed.
Now, I’m not suggesting the news becomes lowbrow clickbait. Rather, we need the highbrow content of before, where we could read an article or two and then sound intelligent during polite conversation.
The stories about Kiwi start-ups doing well by catering to Gen Z’s obsession with the latest consumer fads.
And the thought leadership op-eds from industry figures you haven’t heard of, but that at least look important and authoritative.
Remember the last time you read about an agricultural innovation, a company’s IT overhaul, or the local community group’s environmental initiative?
Chances are a PR practitioner was responsible for that story.
It’s sometimes said that public relations consultants make the bad news good, and the good news even better.
And in a time of doom and gloom, who wouldn’t want more of that?