Is PR Good PR if People Know It’s PR?

The Cowboy King

Prince William and his bride Princess Catherine are continuing their tour of North America and stopped for a brief bit in Calgary a couple of days ago. They did something during their stay that surely would have elicited jeers and laughs in almost any town in the American Southwest: they donned Wranglers, boots, big belt buckles, and wide cowboy hats in what was surely a “calculated” public relations ploy.

That is, I’m sure the Prince’s press secretary (or whatever it is they call them on the other side of the Atlantic) thought it would be a great way for the future king to connect with the locals–and get some positive presss–by posing for a few photographs in the get-up made famous by Western movies. Let’s just say I highly doubt Charles and Kate wrangle steers on their weekends at Balmoral.

Even so, is there anything wrong with them trying the look on for size? No. After all, I have  a pair of boots I wear on occasion and I’ve only ridden a horse once or twice in my life. The question the whole charade poses though is this: is a public relations stunt a good public relations stunt if people know it’s a public relations stunt? (My personal opinion is that it isn’t.)

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook a few days ago:

Some of the quotes PR “pros” fabricate in news releases are just awful. No high school student in real life is going to say, “It gives us the most priceless resource: hope,” in casual conversation.

Here’s a note to future public relations professionals: people aren’t stupid. I mean that in the nicest way possible. There’s nothing wrong with trying to build a good report with the public, but do it in ways that are at least somewhat believable. The things I described earlier succeed in only one thing: breeding cynicism toward your profession.

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