Advisers Should Advise, Not Implement Policy

By James Knight.

Political Advisors have been around for many a day, they have come to the forefront in recent years, with Alastair Campbell probably the most well-known until Dominic Cummings came along and stole the limelight.

It’s my opinion that they do damage to our profession’s reputation, the perception of professional communicators everywhere.

Unfortunately, it’s not only the PR industry’s reputation that is suffering, they are also giving politicians a bad name.

When Tony Blair was PM, Geoffrey Norris was an advisor. ‘Who?’ you may well ask. Very few people knew who he was and that is what being advisor is all about, not being the story.

Today, we face many hurdles in PR has I have highlighted in previous articles, especially hospitality industry.

Harold Wilson created a political unit, political advisors were around long before him.

Leading universities in the States have seen a sharp rise in Political Sciences Relations with emphasis on PR and communications – it is a sexy topic.

The worst case of how our professional profession was dragged through the Rose Garden, was Dominic Cummings’ Press Conference, a political advisor should never of been given that opportunity.

Will communications change with Allegra Stratton’s appointment? She formerly worked as a communications specialist for Rushi Sunak and as a journalist on national newspapers.

This is follows on from Donald Trump calling press briefings with Kayleigh McEnany answering questions from the media, so we are  going along the American lines. Let’s see if Joe Biden adopts the same policy.

The recent appointed of Gina Coladangelo as Matt Hancock PR spokesperson without an interview also brings in the question of cronyism. After meeting him at Radio Oxford, she was the PR person for Oliver Bonas, her husband founder then shareholder of Luther Dragon PR company that also is involved in lobbying.

The job should surely have been advertised.

I would suggest that we need clearer guidelines on how political advisors are recruited and their job descriptions, before our profession is damaged more.

Professor James Knight is an international businessman, public relations practitioners and academic. He was Fellow of Bournemouth University Public Relations School, guest speaker at Judge Cambridge, Surrey, Bath and Reading, International Mentor for Oxford Brookes on Hospitality. He is a Fellow of CIPR and the Society of Public Relations of America, as well as a fellow of the Institute of Directors. He sat for two years on one of Britain leading Cardiology Committees at Barts and is an Ambassador for Barts.

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