You know when you read something that makes your blood boil? That.
At the back end of last week, PR Week named Brexit ‘Leave’ its public relations campaign of the month in an an article entitled “Leave Offers a Masterclass in Effective Comms Campaigning”.
When I heard about it via Facebook at the weekend, it left me seething. It’s possibly the most vacuous, misleading and downright bloody ridiculous article I’ve read in a very long time.
The article says among other things that the “data driven” movement for Britain to leave the European Union “did everything a successful PR campaign should” and that “PR and campaigning professionals would do well to learn as much as they can from this case study”.
Where to even start?!
Ethics in Public Relations
It became apparent in the hours and days after the result was announced that the Leave campaign was based upon lies, false promises and deceit. Promises of an additional £350 million per week to spend on the NHS and lower immigration were quickly rescinded by Farage, Gove, Johnson and co.
The campaign’s rhetoric misled millions upon millions of people and changed the face of the UK as a result. That’s not public relations, it’s spin. And It is nothing short of shameful.
Something so downright unethical should never, ever be held up as an example for the industry to follow.
I will concede that the Leave campaign had something the Remain campaign didn’t; that being single-minded focus, energy and an unwavering commitment. And I’ll concede that from a PR perspective those are great qualities. However…
The Nice attack last week was truly horrifying. It was intended to spread fear, as with all terrorism. It worked. But that doesn’t make it right.
While the likes of Sarah Hall’s FuturePRoof ‘project’ is actively driving the industry forward, this article is everything that is wrong and backward about the public relations industry.
Just when you think that actually, finally things really are changing for the better, a self- destructive, poisonous, click-bait bait article like this appears. Shame on you, PR Week.
For more responses to the article, check out Stephen Waddington’s Facebook post.