THE Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) has a definition of what public relations means. It says on its website that PR is:
“…the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”
This is of course, what each and every new minister seems to be undertaking since they were appointed…
Within 36 hours of taking their Ministerial pledge, there were stories with culture minister Carál Ní Chuilín and education minister John O'Dowd on a double page spread in the Irish News.
Then we had the exclusive BBC interview with new health minister Edwin Poots. Chunks of airtime, despite the wall-to-wall Royal visit down south coverage, were devoted to Minister Poots.
The first part of the CIPR definition of PR is about reputation. So, combined with the quotation above, we have a clear agenda to gain a better reputation for ministers, goodwill towards them and their decisions, and – get this – mutual understanding.
Well that’s all right then. Our ministers will work to make sure that not only are they going to tell us what’s happening through their organised media management, but they are also going to listen to what service users want and need.
We suspect not. In fact, call us cynical (most people do) but the whole exercise of ministers in the media this past week smacks of a concerted effort to make sure that the public recognises their faces.
So who is behind this propaganda effort? (We’ll not dignify it as PR because the charm offensive will die out as soon as hard choices need to be made)
Is it the Executive Information Service? Is it the party’s themselves? Is it the legions of ‘Special’ Advisers?
Whoever it is, we expect that journalists will find that the word ‘goodwill’ shall be dropped from any definition of PR that equates to ministerial communications.