The tetchy chamberlain, part II

David Brain, president and CEO of Edelman Europe, has just posted a copy of a snail mail letter (PDF) from Colin Farrington, director general of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

David’s entitled his post ‘The Tetchy Emperor Part II’, but I think it would be more accurate to call it ‘The Tetchy Chamberlain, Part II’ as Colin is an administrator, not a leader.

As David says most of it is sixth form level debating stuff, but one bit that leapt out for me was:

“Finally, and more seriously, I am concerned about the degree of transparency (the connection between individual employers, practitioners and clients) that appears to be lacking in some ‘blogs’ and on some websites. This is an important (and I suspect quite tricky in detail) issue for public relations practitioners so I have asked our Professional Practices Committee to agree guidelines for members on this. They will no doubt be consulting on them shortly.”

This is something that I have been thinking about a lot. I am in the middle of trying to write a guide on blogging to go on the PR Guides section of the CIPR website. One of the issues that means it is taking longer than I expected is the whole issue of transparency.

CIPR wiki to agree social media media guidelines

My idea, which I’ve just outlined in a letter to Colin Farrington, is that the Professional Practices Committee does not agree guidelines and consult on them. Instead CIPR should create a wiki which interested members can edit until we come up with guidelines which can be endorsed by by the Professional Practices Committee.

The accepted ‘norm’ in the blogosphere is probably that transparency is paramount and that ghost-written blogs are unacceptable. I’m not so sure I agree with this and believe there can be circumstances where ghosting is acceptable.

What puzzles me is Colin’s statement that “transparency…. appears to be lacking in some ‘blogs’.” In fact blogs are usually far MORE transparent than most traditional public relations. The majority of trade and professional magazines would have virtually no content if it wasn’t for ghost-written material produced by public relations professionals. How many articles by-lined to company spokespeople do you think are really written by them?

On blogs, comments and reputation

As Colin does actually read and comment on blogs himself I hope he can explain his statement on either David’s or my blog.

On the subject of comments I agree with Colin that “there are many, including some from people who should be able to do much better given their expertise, which seem to be pointless and/or unlikely to have anything but a negative effect on reputation.” My emphasis. :-)

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Stuart Bruce

International Public Relations Adviser | Trainer | Author | Media Commentator | Conference Speaker | University Lecturer | Online PR | Digital Corporate Communications | Crisis Communications | Digital Public Affairs