New Gallup poll shows more view our profession negatively than positively
The Public Relations industry continues to suffer from a poor image among Americans. A new Gallup poll conducted earlier this month asked more than 1,000 people ages 18 and up whether they had a positive, negative or neutral view of 25 industries including Public Relations and Advertising.
We ranked 16th overall among the 25 industries listed, coming in behind electric and gas utilities, but way ahead of the legal field, banking, healthcare, oil & gas and -- way at the bottom -- the Federal government. Ranked best were, in order from the top, the computer industry, restaurants, internet, farming & agriculture, and the grocery business. Publishing ranked 9th and the TV and radio field was 14th.
Since Gallup began measuring the image of PR and advertising in 2001, this is the worst rating our fields have received. The net positive rating (ie., the difference between the positive and negative scores) has dropped by 6 percent over the past ten years, to a net rating now of -5.
It's a bit tricky to attribute causes for the low ranking, since PR and advertising have been lumped topgether. Is one industry's reputation being hurt by the sins of the other? Does a popular show like "Mad Men" have an impact on what the general public thinks we do and how we behave? Or does the sometimes questionable integrity of so-called "spin doctors" in PR hurt us? And when a company is trying to hide or muddy the waters when there's a perceived problem, it's often the PR person who has to stand in front of reporters and cameras and try to dodge questions or give vague non-answers.
I also wonder if some blame can be pinned on our industry's trade group -- PRSA, the Public Relations Society of America. Over the years they have done a pitifully poor job of trying to enhance our image.
I suppose things could be worse, at least for those of us on the agency side. We could be doing PR for lawyers or for the Federal government.