Max and My Letter to PR Week

May 20th, 2013 by Rob Brown

Max Clifford

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.”

About Rob Brown

Rob Brown has worked in PR for over 20 years and for over fifteen years held senior PR positions within three major global advertising networks; Euro RSCG, McCann and TBWA. He launched his own business ‘Rule 5’ in MediaCityUK, Manchester in November 2012. Rob is the author of ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ (2009), blogs for The Huffington Post and is joint editor of 'Share This Too' (2013).

4 Responses to “Max and My Letter to PR Week”

  1. Meg McAllister (@MegmacPR) Says:

    I missed the PR Week ‘homage’ to Max Clifford but had it come to my attention I would have blanched. Even though I’m a relative newcomer to the UK PR scene, Max Clifford’s notoriety is something I became familiar (and disgusted) with many years ago when I started in the business in NY. He’s often referred to as an “old school” publicist…a supposed ‘icon’ in the industry. I find those accolades insulting to some of the truly great innovators of the PR business. All Max Clifford is good at is attracting attention to himself. A 20th century P.T. Barnum, who engenders every poor stereotype of a PR practitioner.

  2. Graham Says:

    I too have not seen the PR Week homage to Max and gladly admit to a wry smile when the announcement was made of the Operation Yewtree questions into him – not because I suppose him guilty but because he has made his reputation and money dealing with rumour, speculation and high-profile legal cases. I have spent years telling anyone that would listen that Max is NOT a PR practitioner, and to be fair to him, I can’t recall him ever saying he was. He’s a publicist and a very good one at that but he does not represent the PR industry.

  3. Rob Brown Says:

    Graham – he describes himself as a Public Relations practitioner here

  4. Grace Says:

    I agree with your article but I’m more horrified that the media who should and do know better choose to solicit his opinion as a PR spokesperson.

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