30.8.06

How many PROs does it take to change a lightbulb?

How many PROs does it take to run a press office – 3,200 according to today’s Daily Telegraph.
Spending on Government spin has trebled since Labour came to power. A total of 1,815 press officers and other public relations staff works in Whitehall departments. John Prescott, the Deputy Prime Minister, has three press officers, despite no longer having a department.
A further 1,444 are employed by more than 200 quangos and agencies that are paid for out of the public purse, bringing the total number of press officers to 3,259.
The Central Office of Information's PR, advertising and marketing budget has soared from £111 million in 1997 to £322 million last year. Much of the money has been spent on advertising flagship policies, including tax credits and extra help for pensioners.
One of the most profound sources of disillusionment with New Labour is the belief that its entire approach to governing has been ruled by the priorities of public relations. A great story for the Torygraph then!
However, I note in the Telegraph’s leader that this is also another opportunity to have a bash at the Public Relations Community. It says: “This insidious culture of press manipulation has infiltrated virtually every institution in the public sector: museums, cultural institutions and community agencies have all learnt the formula. It will take a dedicated effort by any future government to avoid playing the same game.”
This smacks of the dog biting the hand that feeds it.

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