PR National Awareness DaySaturday, July 27 was the first "PR National Awareness Day" in the U.K. in case you missed it.

Almost everyone missed it in the U.K. and there is no evidence anyone at all knew about the effort in the U.S.

It was a feeble initial bid to tell PR’s story to U.K. businesses but touched off a chorus of mostly negative comments up to and including ridicule by journalists and PR practitioners themselves.

The "irony" of the failure of PR Day to get much publicity for itself was called "so delicious it has to be fattening," in a tweet at #PR by Rhi_Jenks that was quoted by Emily Smart editorial assistant at CorpComms Magazine, U.K.

A similar blowback happened after 2011 PR Society of America chair Rosanna Fiske told New York Times ad columnist Stuart Elliott on Nov. 20, 2011 that she could not explain what she did for a living to her parents and needed help.

More than a dozen PR groups worldwide eventually were recruited for the task. However, the resulting definition, that PR "maintains mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics," satisfied almost no one.

Dave Rickey, 2012 PR Society secretary, admitted the failure in a posting on spinsucks.com that drew numerous comments. He said the question of what PR is remains open.

July 27 Recalled PR at Olympics Opening

Creators of PR Day said July 27 was picked because it marked the first anniversary of the 2012 London Olympics ceremony "which profiled PR at its very best."

"The main aim," says the website of PR Day, "is to encourage business to embrace the opportunity to make their mark, raise their profile and address their public. No matter how large or small, whether it’s a product or a services, everyone can use PR to their advantage."

Examples of successful PR efforts were said to be Red Bull’s Cosmic Jump from Space; Dove’s Real Women Campaign; Calendar Girls of WI Ladies (veterans auxiliary group), and Cadbury’s drumming gorilla.

Taking part in the Day were said to be organizations all over the country with PR activities such as "free promotional merchandise, money off vouchers, bespoke events and parties, Olympic branded themes, social media marketing, and tweets."

Interested parties were offered the e-mail of the group: pr.day@live.co.uk.

BBC, Financial Times Bust on PR

The abortive inaugural of "PR Day" in the U.K. brought out slams at PR in the BBC News Magazine and Financial Times.

Benjamin Webb of Deliberate PR, billed as a "long-serving PR expert" by the BBC, wrote "There is an irony that an industry all about the construction and manipulation of image might itself suffer from an image problem."

Benjamin WebbHis "heart sinks" whenever anyone asks him what he does for a living.

His 1,064-word essay, which quotes Ed Bernays as saying those who "manipulate the opinions of the masses" constitute the "true ruling power of our country," asks, "Why does this, the worst-paid of the marketing disciplines, engender such disdain, whereas other sectors are tolerated, even considered cool? Why has the negative phrase ‘It’s just a PR stunt’ entered common parlance to suggest something ephemeral and without substance, merit or legitimacy?"

He blasted the "deluge of badly-written press releases, silly events and photo stunts, ‘news stories’ without news value, and meaningless ‘campaigns’ that have come to irk journalists and bore an increasingly cynical general public." He also wondered why Bernays did not consider "manipulating opinion" to be "socially corrosive."

Among numerous comments to the essay is one by "Dev" of Manchester who notes Bernays "was also highly influential on Joseph Goebbels, who used the power of propaganda and manipulation of the public consciousness to devastating effect…"
Webb concludes by saying, "In the digital age, credible interactive content is king…"

Groom of FT Sees Death of PR

Brian Groom of the Financial Times, saying Webb’s remark that "The writing is on the wall for the traditional consumer-focused PR model" is a forecast of "the death of the sector," wrote, "It looks like goodbye PR people. It was sometimes interesting, and often aggravating, to know you. I am sure we will miss you when you are gone."

The Centre for Corporate Public Affairs, Melbourne, headlined “PR Is Dead” in a five-page article in its first 2013 issue.

Touching off increased focus on advertising/PR is the proposed merger of Omnicom and Publicis with combined revenues of $22 billion+.

Respondents to a poll on the merger on odwyerpr.com have voted thus far as follows: 33% say it would be "good for PR"; 25% say it would be "bad for PR"; 8% say it should be "scrapped" and 33% say it will have "no effect on PR."

John Wren, CEO of OMC, and Randall Weisenburger, CFO who earns almost as much as Wren, have shown a disdain for press interactivity for many years. The announcement of the merger was made in Paris. There was no press conference in New York. OMC’s annual meeting was moved out of New York in 2004.

Edelman Says Big Does Not Mean Better

Richard Edelman, CEO of Edelman, world’s largest PR operation, and one of the few spokespeople for PR in the U.S. along with Fraser Seitel and Mike Paul, congratulated Wren and Maurice Levy of Publicis in his blog but said "Bigger does not mean better."

He notes that the organic growth rates for the two firms have been in the low percentage points and that the "roll-up phase is over" as a means of growth for the conglomerates.

"The best people will want to work for a firm at which they can be entrepreneurial and creative," wrote Edelman.

He notes that media are bypassing ad agencies and selling directly to clients. Google AdWords and other Google ad revenues were $42.5 billion in 2012 and are forecast at $50 billion for 2013. Advertisers outbid each other to obtain the top spots on product categories, often spending hundreds of thousands monthly. Newspaper ad revenues, meanwhile, have dipped from $49.2B in 2006 to $25.3B (including $3.3B in digital and $2.9B in niche publications).

Hits on PR Are Problem for Freebairn-Smith

The attacks on PR present a problem for Hamden, Conn., consultant Laura Freebairn-Smith who has been hired by the PR Society to refurbish the image of PR accreditation for its 50th anniversary in 2014.

There’s no use being "accredited" in an occupation with a bad image.

June 30 marked the completion of 10 years of the new computer-based multiple-choice exam of the Universal Accreditation Board.

Susan Barnes and Bey-Ling Sha, chair and vice chair, respectively, of the UAB, do not respond to phone calls or e-mails requesting the ten-year stats.