Laura McClure (nee Manuel) (BA 2006) returns to Leeds Metropolitan University in February as part of Sheffield-based Reverend & the Makers national tour.
Four Leeds Met public relations lecturers and graduates have contributed chapters to Share This Too: More Social Media Solutions for PR Professionals to be published on 9 September by Wiley.
The book is supported by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and is a follow-up to the bestselling Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals published by Wiley in 2012.
Photo shows: Richard Bailey, senior lecturer in public relations; Stuart Bruce, consultant, trainer and associate lecturer; and Chris Norton, consultant and associate lecturer, who completed his public relations degree in 2000.
Missing from the photo is Dom Burch, head of PR and social media at ASDA, who graduated with a public relations degree in 1998, who also contributed a chapter to the book.
It’s interesting to compare and contrast two heavyweights in the PR world that have recently been speaking at Leeds Business School, writes senior lecturer Robert Minton-Taylor.
Both men are at the top of their crafts. Max Clifford as a publicist and owner manager of a single office, Max Clifford Associates, and Bob Leaf the former international chairman of Burson-Marsteller who helped build the company into a global brand spanning over 90 countries.
Max Clifford’s early life as a journalist and publicist for EMI was interesting but hardly insightful. While he put up a spirited defence of his ‘well it’s OK to lie’, it compared poorly with Bob Leaf’s mantra that PR was about perception and reputation.
Clifford has a passionate distrust, indeed dislike of journalists, strange when his background is in journalism. During my 45 years in public relations, and having trained as a journalist, I find that deeply offensive given that journalists are one of our prime paths to communicating with a myriad of target audiences.
At heart I suspect that Clifford is simply a publicist with an uncanny knack of getting coverage in the Red Tops – popular tabloid newspapers. He was somewhat disingenuous in claiming he didn’t know about the CIPR especially when they paid for his two suites at the Queens Hotel, Leeds and first class rail travel to and from London. Was he just taking the CIPR for a ride? I suspect he was. Contrast that with Bob Leaf who paid his own expenses.
As a former managing director of a public relations agency what I found somewhat disturbing was Clifford’s assertion that there is nothing wrong in lying to further his clients’ aims. He appears to operate under his own rules and no-one else’s. Fine, but PRs don’t live in isolation.
We have to engage with and facilitate communication between people. To do that we need to be open, host and transparent in our communications and bound by a code of conduct. Unless you trust what a PR person is saying then the whole basis of what we do and say is shot to pieces.
Indeed, public relations would be a much poorer discipline were it not for a code of conduct. Having helped refine the CIPR’s code of conduct (as a former chairman of its professional practices committee) I am delighted to hear that the CIPR intends to publish a list of all its members. It’s high time we were held accountable for our actions to our stakeholders and clients.
Senior lecturer Robert Minton-Taylor discusses the latest twist in a long-running story involving the police, a famous football club, and a tabloid newspaper.
It has taken 23 years for the ‘truth’ to come out that Liverpool fans were not responsible for the tragedy at the Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield which hosted the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest football clubs in April 1989.
It is a damming indictment that it took 20 years for a government minister to call for the police, ambulance, and all other public bodies to release documents which had not been made available to the official inquiry into the disaster led by Lord Justice Taylor in 1990. That inquiry concluded that “the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control.”
Thankfully the Taylor report’s findings resulted in the elimination of standing terraces at all major football stadiums in England, Wales and Scotland, but it did nothing to exonerate the role played by Liverpool fans who were dammed in a Sun newspaper article four days after the disaster.
The then editor of the Sun Kelvin MacKenzie headlined the front page of the paper with the words “THE TRUTH” followed by three sub-headlines: “Some fans picked pockets of victims”, “Some fans urinated on the brave cops” and “Some fans beat up PC giving kiss of life”.
Who briefed the Sun and other national newspapers on the day is an interesting question especially in light of the need today for open, honest, transparent communications between PR professionals and the media and the publics they serve.
The fact that Kelvin MacKenzie is now demanding an apology from the police for the Sun’s coverage is perplexing to say the least. Today’s Daily Mirror (27 September) says that “Kelvin MacKenzie has told his solicitors to write to South Yorkshire Police demanding an apology they they say sorry to him for allowing the smears to be passed on.”
The Sun journalist who wrote the story alleging drunken Liverpool fans abused victims and police during the Hillsborough disaster said he was “aghast” when he saw MacKenzie’s headline. Reporter Harry Arnold told the BBC his story had been written in a “fair and balanced way” and the controversial claims had been “allegations”. He said it was editor Kelvin MacKenzie who wrote the headline “The Truth”.
Correct me if I am wrong, but aren’t journalists supposed to check and double-check their sources? Relying solely on information provided by press officers and other public relations professionals to write front page stories is a serious dereliction of the duty of a journalist.
As a PR practitioner I would never presume that a journalist would simply take information from a PR person and presume that he or she was disseminating the full unexpurgated picture of an ongoing incident. I trained as a journalist and all my NCTJ training taught me that asking the who, why, what, where, when and how questions were paramount and that a single source for a story was simply not good enough.
Why weren’t these basic skills deployed at the time of writing? Could it be that ‘the facts did not fit the story’ and that cynically spinning “The Truth” headline was simply for increased newsstand sales? Surely not?
I’m hoping to speak to new postgraduate students if my undergraduate class ends in good time. Here are my notes:
- I will be leading two of your modules next semester (PR Skills, PR and New Media), so it’s ‘hello and goodbye’ for now
- There’s an opportunity for you to join a global consultancy’s community of ideas. Come and hear about Mindfire from Brian Keenan of Ketchum on Tuesday 2 October, 4pm, Rose Bowl Lecture Theatre B. Winning ideas win prizes.
- There are three large cash prizes available for winners of this year’s Claire Mascall PR Prize. You should enter.
- I’m working on a national PR pitch competition and I hope to find two teams from our UG and PG students to put forward for this national competition next year.
- We need to shoot a new photo for this website. This involves several of my colleagues and you. When can we meet up for a photo – and go for a drink afterwards?
- Who’d like to come on a free walk the ancient walled city of York one weekend?
Richard Bailey (senior lecturer in Public Relations)
Lucia Scurei already has a PR degree from her home university in Bucharest, Romania.
She’s now completing a Master’s in International Communication which includes studying in three European countries – but she’s not planning on stopping there.
‘I’m keen to work in corporate communication, and feel that further insight into Human Resource Management would be useful for internal communication and corporate strategy.
‘I feel it’s important to keep on learning.’
‘My course has given me an ambition to work at a strategic level – but I recognise that my first steps need to be at a technical level so I’m keen to develop my skills and experience.’
Mastery of several European languages; practice of persuasive spoken and written communication; skills in digital communication; empathy for those in receipt of communication; a high level of intelligence.
It’s a rare and valuable combination.
Welcome to tomorrow’s communicator.