03 July 2007

"PR is truly the mongrel of the professions..."

Not my words: Mike Willard's. Ever heard of him? Neither had I until this morning. And guess what? He runs a PR company!

I found out about him through reading the online version of The Ukrainian Observer ("A knowledge based magazine"...umm, as opposed to..?)

I know, I know...bit of an odd choice of reading material. But I'd noticed a headline which touched a subject close to my heart: "Billing by the hour is dumb" which topped a story written by Willard.

Still doesn't really make sense though, does it? A story about how PR companies bill clients in a magazine about Ukraine?

Well, it turns out that in addition to running PR companies in Russia, Turkey and Ukraine, Willard's company - The Willard Group - publishes The Ukrainian Observer. Which I guess gives him carte blanche to write about whatever he likes.

Willard's article discusses the old chestnut related to traditional hourly billing versus billing based on the value of results. He uses a couple of nice examples so if you're new to the argument it's worth a read.

Willard's "PR is truly the mongrel of the professions" actually features in a different article in the Observer (like I said, carte blanche...) under the headline of "Public Relations and common sense."

Willard's argument is thet PR is largely the "strategic application of common sense" - something I'd largely agree with - but that this simple definition has become clouded through spin and the control and shaping of image. "Image making," Willard contests, "is to say that a glistening new coat of paint is all that is needed for the termite-infested fence."

He also shares some of our views regarding formal PR qualifications:

"We also should not smother the profession in academia. A certain foundation, perhaps, can be established through a public relations education, but I believe those basics can be taught in a few months in a classroom or, alternatively, a fortnight in the real world....I have never suggested a higher degree in public relations, though a master's in common sense might not be out of the question. The crux of the matter is that PR is a way of thinking - and this is generally experience taught rather than classroom osmosis."

Again, it's worth a read.

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