Two weeks ago PR Week published a blog post praising Max Clifford’s handling of his own PR following his arrest as part of Operation Yewtree. I thought they were wrong to do so and last week they published my letter explaining why. Letters to the magazine are only available in the print edition so I have posted it online here on PR Media Blog.
“For years, those of us that work in PR have lamented the mediocre reputation of our profession. At the same time we have, it seems, been powerless to prevent the omnipresent Max Clifford acting as a de facto voice of public relations. The media carries a fair share of the blame, seeking sound bites from a celebrity publicist who cites his secrets of success as “confidence and the ability to lie with conviction”.
I wasn’t alone in being horrified with Ian Monk’s homage to Clifford’s PR skills in the pages PR Week a fortnight ago. It joins a catalogue of misplaced eulogies for Clifford and I don’t think PR Week should have carried it. The subject of Ian Monk’s praise was Clifford’s personal PR in the face of his recent arrest but if you watch it back, his performance is unremarkable and his statement is stilted and self-absorbed. There is nothing to admire and nothing for the fervent student of PR to learn.
Most PR people agree that Max Clifford is not one of us; he’s a publicist, a self-promoter and self-confessed dissembler. Many of us feel that he has besmirched the reputation of PR for decades. Quite aside from the fact it’s possible that that he may become unable to carry on speaking on behalf of the public relations industry it is time that we found new voices to represent us. We have some brilliant minds and some great speakers. It may be a case cobblers shoes, but now is time for PR to manage its own reputation.”