Reading the Cluetrain

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And our survey said…

I am probably going to get hammered for this but I am compelled to write about a blog post by Roy Greenslade that I found today. It’s titled ‘People believe PR officers lie – survey’. Obviously as a PR person who doesn’t believe that my job is actually lying this sort of statement is immediately going to get my back up.


The piece however isn’t nearly as annoying as I first thought, (note to self, it helps if you actually read the whole article before you let your blood pressure rise) it comments on a survey by Ciao Surveys which is really annoying.


First of all, who the hell are Ciao Surveys? Prior to my escape to the BBC I worked in PR agencies where the survey has been a fall back mechanic for getting lots of coverage quickly. I have heard of MORI, I have heard of YouGov, but who the funk is Ciao Surveys? The fact that they have the word goodbye in the title, (I grant you in Italian to me does not bode well). ‘Yes we’ve done you a survey; no you probably won’t get any coverage, err ciao!’


To be honest I don’t know how Ciao work or who uses them, in the past I have used MORI because they are a trusted company and the public recognised the name. They are used frequently by PR companies as is YouGov more recently and the results were usually good, (in terms of coverage volume anyway). But Ciao, well I had a bit of a Google and they get some pretty bad press.


But obviously it’s more the subject matter that’s got my goat on this occasion. Like Mr Greenslade I am going to state some facts and put my spin on them (hope you get the irony there…)


First of all according to this Goodbye, sorry Ciao Survey ‘60.3% of people in Britain believe that PR officers often lie’. Do they? Do they really? Do 60% of people in the UK actually know we exist? Perhaps they have just seen the term bandied about in the tabloids next to stories about ex wives of a Beatle or sex tape victims represented by Max Clifford in which case I guess fair enough. But to be honest, I really don’t buy that the majority of the population know what this job is even if they have heard the term.


When I first left Uni I wanted to make films (like many of the people at the BBC I guess, although I am happy to say that I no longer want this, I have the patience of a gnat so standing around watching Take 26 of some actor giving a false tongue sandwich doesn’t really float my boat anymore) but I digress. So I left Uni and did a bit of work experience here, (Kent Today) a bit of work experience there (Live TV) but then ended up running out of money (read Dad said get a bloody paying job Sarah) and trotting back down the Job Centre. At said Job Centre I came upon an admin role in a PR and Events agency. Hmm, what is this? I thought, part time I thought, full time would be better, but my boyfriend at the time also told me to get my arse down there so off I went.


What they did at this agency was not really my concern. I didn’t know what PR was (it has just occurred to me that surely some of them would have called me up when I was at Live TV, ho hum, dunno how that passed me by) but I knew I could answer a phone and would attempt to type and I am a bit gobby so needless to say I got the job.


Five minutes later (read weeks) da boss had decided that he would promote me to being an Account Executive because of my interest in the media and so a new PR was born. But again, the concept of what this actually meant I still found difficult to grasp and I was actually doing it, (okay, before you say it yes I might well be a bit thick but you have to admit PR is a bit intangible).


Anyway, my long drawn out explanation illustrates my point. PR what is it? My Dad still asks me if I wrote the story when I excitably show him a bit of coverage I helped arrange so I am definitely not the only one who has found this a difficult concept to grasp. Maybe it’s a Mines thing.


Apparently a third of Britons believe that the PR industry is necessary – well thank goodness for that.  


Roy’s next point is related to peoples understanding of what a PR’s job function involves. They correctly stated media relations, event planning, advertising (not that correct grrr) and word of mouth marketing. As Roy points out these would have been the options they got on the form which says it all.


Roy also points out later on that Ciao had to admit that half the respondents couldn’t answer the questions because they either didn’t care or didn’t know the answers. So again, the amount of people who know what the funk PR people do, (if they know they exist at all) or give a monkeys is bound to be minimal.


The thing about a survey is that like all documents based on statistics; it can be manipulated, knowing this. Some of them may still be a useful gauge to find out what a small percentage of the population think about a subject but my reaction to this one is that a survey about what people think of the PR industry is the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. Did a company really commission this or did the people at Ciao just get bored?





April 21, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment