PRINZ letter to the editor, North & South

Monday 18 August 2014

Last month's issue of North & South featured an editorial titled "Spinning Out", PRINZ's response to this is below.

Virginia Larson's July 2014 editorial "Spinning Out" raises some important issues about the number and nature of public relations practitioners.

Members of the Public Relations Institute of NZ (PRINZ) commit to an internationally recognised code of ethics. Key principles in the code include honesty, professionalism and balancing openness and privacy. It would be very disappointing if any our 1200 plus members were 'lying for a living' as Larson states of some PR people in her experience.

Yes, numbers of communications staff in government departments, councils and other organisations have increased over the past couple of decades. The stakeholders of those entities, in their need for more and faster information, drive much of that increase. And that group also includes reporters who demand fast turnaround times for information.

Clients, customers, neighbours, internal staff, shareholders and others are continuing to engage at faster rates through traditional and social media. The roles of PR people in those organisations are much broader than simply pumping information out to make the organisation look good. Staff will be working on strategic and operational matters like advising the Board and executive, issues management, crisis planning, working with HR on internal communications and culture, website content, printed materials, events, consultation, media relations, social media and monitoring.

Our code of ethics states that our members will 'promote open communication in the public interest wherever possible.' There's no requirement to belong to PRINZ in order to practise PR in New Zealand, but we would be surprised if any of our members were undertaking deceptive practices.

Journalists and PR people work best when they have genuine, positive relationships so let's hope that we can do that better than what was described in Virginia Larson's editorial.

Bruce Fraser

President PRINZ