I was struck by a thought expressed in a tweet back to me this morning commenting on my “AbFab v AbPower” post. The tweeter (do we say tweeps any more?) who obviously should remain anonymous, made the comment that as PR practitioner she has always worked with “a cloak of invisibility.”
Of course. That’s it. That is PR.
I frequently say (sorry now saying it again) that if you know of my work, something has gone wrong.
I also have been known to use the analogy of stage lighting and the theatre. I used to design and engineer lighting for stage shows in my youth. The worst thing that could ever happen was if someone in the audience said “great lighting tonight” (they never did, mind). The whole point of the lighting is to create the right atmosphere. If it works you should not notice it. It should be an invisible contribution. It would be like saying “didn’t the actors remember their lines well.”
The same applies in PR (and all other disciplines we choose to call PR). If you noticed it, it failed.
The greatest buzz for me has always been to see something happen as a result of my work without people seeing the “workings,” to hear other people use my words as if they are their own, read a “news” or social media story that I planted, or know that a law or regulation disappeared as a result of my lobbying. The buzz is from most people not knowing how it happened.
The same must be true in the consumer PR/celeb publicity worlds, although I have no experience of those.
I’m deeply suspicious of PR people who become the story themselves or who talk about their current work. I have never talked about any work I have done in the last five years, and never would.
I like the “cloak of invisibility” metaphor. Perfect.