These people give politicians a bad name

Today’s Yorkshire Post reports that
the Department for Transport is investing in evaluating its media
coverage. Why is this a story, surely it’s part of every professional
PR activity? Well yes of course it is, but it hasn’t stopped two of
Yorkshire’s newest MPs from attempting to make political capital out
of criticising it.

This wouldn’t be so bad if they were just ordinary MPs, after all
lots of people don’t understand PR and might believe the "big brother
monitoring" spin that the Yorkshire Post has given it. But these MPs
both should have known better. They both worked in professional
marketing before becoming MPs. PR and marketing both suffer an image
problem with politicians. They are an easy target if you want to paint
the opposition party as wasting money. PR and marketing professionals
know this isn’t true therefore those of us who enter politics have a
duty to be honest and truthful about the importance of both for central
and local government.

Greg Mulholland and Philip Davies
should hang their heads in shame. Their behaviour is exactly what gives
politicians a bad name. The only conclusions that you can draw from
their comments is that either they were very, very bad at their
previous jobs (which I don’t believe) or that they have decided to
cynicaly mislead the public to score cheap political points. Either way
they are a disgrace to both marketing and politics.

Below I’ve pasted a copy of my letter to the Yorkshire Post:

Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland and Tory MP Philip Davies both
worked in marketing before becoming MPs. You would expect then that
less than 12 months after becoming MPs they would still have a basic
grasp of the fundamentals of their profession. Unfortunately both
appear to be keener on providing misleading sound bites rather than
using their professional expertise for the benefit of the public.

Their ridiculous attack on the Department for Transport for
investing in evaluating its communications strategy by measuring media
coverage (Yorkshire Post, December 5) shows why politicians are held in
such low esteem. As MPs they have a duty to ensure that taxpayers money
is being spent effectively. Instead of using their professional
expertise to provide informed comment they have both jumped on to a
populist band wagon to deliberately mislead the electorate.

As a professional public relations consultant I, like every other
taxpayer, would be most alarmed if money was being squandered on a
communications campaign that was not being monitored and evaluated in
order to assess how it can be improved to deliver more cost effective
results. The Department for Transport has a duty to inform, listen to
and consult with the public. That’s what we all expect. We should also
expect them to deliver value for money and to spend tax payers money
effectively. Evaluating media coverage is common practice throughout
private business and the public sector. The Department of Transport is
simply conducting its business in a professional manner.

Greg Mulholland criticises the government’s ‘obsession with spin’ at
the same time as proving by his misleading comments that he is master
of the art of spin! Sadly both Mulholland and Davies are more
interested in scoring cheap political points rather than contributing
intelligently to the debate and concentrating on improving transport in
Yorkshire.


About Stuart Bruce

International communications consultant and PR trainer specialising in online public affairs, digital corporate communications, online PR and social media; frequent national media commentator and conference speaker.
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