Tuesday, February 08, 2005

For the PR Industry: The Carrot, The Stick (and my father's recipe for beans)

I was listening yesterday to The Hobson and Holz Report and they were chatting up our humble movement to build blogging goodwill for the PR industry. While encouraging, they wondered what measurable change this can possibly accomplish.

I have a pet theory and it's related to my father's "Famous Beans." When my dad would invite family over for dinner, he'd welcome us all to come over because he was cooking up a pot of his "famous beans." Over the years, when speaking of his beans, he always referred to them as his "famous" beans.

Now we all refer to them as such and can hardly remember a time when they were not famous. I think if we keep tooting our own horns, beating our drums, keep chanting "I do believe in fairies! I believe in fairies!" then Tinkerbell will live and people will one day speak about public relations with reverence instead of disdain.

That's the carrot. Here comes the stick: I believe we need to create a public relations licensing authority.

Lawyers have such a body and you even need a license to be a masseuse and a cosmetologist. As Phil Gomes grumbles in a recent post, "For some reason, PR people turn into a terribly self-flagellating bunch every so often, maybe about once a year or so. Do litigators do this?"

Well, no. But it couldn't hurt them to examine their navels now and then.

However, I suspect that having a licensing body with real teeth can save us all from both scandals and periodic self-flagellation. (By the way, if you work with Phil Gomes, he really needs a hug. Crikey, do you really associate your work with the Stockholm syndrome?)

Here's a suggestion: Let's create a state bar for public relations professionals that has the power to censure its licensees. And if we give them the power to revoke licenses, then even agencies with $97 million federal contracts will stick to the straight and narrow.

Public relations