Sunday morning saw me do something I haven’t done for many years. I bought a local Sunday paper. I know, I know, I spend my life selling stories in to local media but there’s something so scandalous about the language and “exposé” nature of the local Sundays that I just can’t bring myself to read them. For the same reason that I don’t watch any soaps.
However Twitter was awash with stories about a local PR scandal in our very own Sunday paper so I couldn’t resist. I won’t link the article or go into detail for legal reasons, but if you’re in the biz, you’ll know the one I’m talking about. However, it’s not the details of the story that spurred me to take fingers-to-keyboard on the subject.
What caught my eye was the flagrant throwing around of the term “PR Guru”. Whether it’s a self-proclaimed title, I don’t know, but as a title in general, it certainly seems to get some people riled. What does it even mean?
According to Wikipedia, Guru is a Sanskrit term for “teacher” or “master”, especially in Indian religions.
Google the term and the first result to appear is Max Clifford. That in itself rings alarm bells because he isn’t a PR, he’s a Publicist. This is another thorn in the backsides of PROs everywhere, because he’s become our (now fallen) poster boy.
The “PR Guru” the Sunday paper referred to also wasn’t a PRO. From their article it would appear the specialism was in online promotion, which is social media as opposed to PR, is it not? In fact, many many paragraphs later, the article states that the person did indeed call themselves a “Social Media Consultant” and not a “PR Guru”. The writer also makes numerous references to “socialite” or “socialising” and the terms “PR scene” and “glitzy parties” appear in the same sentence.
Where is this scene? Why have I not been invited? Am I the only PRO who spends my days in flat shoes, dusty leggings, up to my neck in press releases, emails and empty coffee cups?
So it’s clear to see why the term is derogatory for local PR folk, given the connotations that we spend our nights partying and our days helping celebrities hide their dirty laundry. On further investigation it appears that the term may not be as offensive in other parts of the world, with businesses in both America and Australia, openly using it as their brand name.
Since all it does is create confusion, offend and/or attract derision, can I be the first to call for a Guru Amnesty and simply call people “experts”?
But only when they are worthy of the term, of course.