Nice shows we still need government PR… if not the fat cats

Posted on 22/09/2010


I was interested to see the anger on Panorama and in the media on the salaries of the government comms fat cats.  PR Week covered the story and I obviously had my say there.

But Paul Cardin‘s response made me think, he said:

No sympathy whatsoever from this quarter. Don’t fight it and risk exposing yourselves. Just line up and take the medicine. Being surplus to requirements during the hard times, you’ll be progressively more redundant as this recession takes hold and exposes the overpaid parasites and hangers on.

Fair enough on the medicine point. There are plenty in the industry who agree with Paul on that – and I think that’s pretty much the industry body stand point.

But I don’t think all comms people can be tagged as parasites. And, I think this misses the point slightly.

Sure there were excesses during the Labour years (as someone who has read more Central Office of Information briefs than I care to remember, there are some my company refused to go for because we just felt they were a waste of money and wouldn’t deliver any tangible result).

But much of the comms activity undertaken by government / charities has been socially useful (anti-smoking and recruitment of teachers to name just two), but the headlines today from Nice show an urgent need for comms.

The big news in their story states that unless we increase access to and uptake of ante-natal services, babies will continue to be born in less than ideal situations and that:

Babies born into these circumstances are also around twice as likely to be stillborn or die shortly after birth as those who are not.

The access point is one area which needs government funding. But the uptake is an issue for communicators with a clearly defined audience to act on. It is very measurable objective and if successful will help save lives.

So even if you don’t like the salaries of the PR fat cats, don’t assume all government comms people are parasites – look what good they have done and could do.