After a while, working in a PR agency has a kind of Stockholm Syndrome effect on account handlers. You start to identify with your captors (Karoline (with a K) and the clients) and believe you have shared objectives. To survive, you may convince yourself the stories you are peddling are true, even when they are patently nonsense. We know deep down that this new mango smoothie or that long-life sandwich will not revolutionise convenience eating and the food-on-the-go fixture. But we can’t stop saying it, over and over again. In the worst cases, you even hear otherwise quite intelligent people say things like ‘PR helps consumers make an informed choice’.
There are three escape routes: heavy drinking, which everybody in PR tries, most of the time (this morning for example, I’m celebrating Suntory’s takeover of Lucozade by adding a very generous measure of the Japanese giant’s Auchentoshan scotch to the orangey glucose fizz) floristry (as mentioned before, the universal next career choice for stalled account directors) or a revelation that the whole of PR is a house of cards and could collapse at any minute. This tends to bring on a condition known as ‘perspective’ and its allied mind-state, ‘common sense’. Fortunately, these are often only temporary, and then it’s back to captivity as usual.
Politics is certainly no escape from the nonsense, though some have tried. The ghastly leather-clad shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint’s husband is an ex-PR man. You would have thought he would have warned her to be careful bandying around the phrase ‘Aldi mum’ to describe key swing voters in the next election. It’s a term that has been universally adopted by London’s chattering classes as rhyming slang for ‘scum’. Not very Labour. At least, not in public.