Did you catch the interview on BBC Radio 4’s Saturday Live this morning with former footballer’s girlfriend, Nicola Smith (available to listen again here)? Curiously, the role seemed to run in the family as she mentioned her even more celebrated sister Mandy, who notoriously dated Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones when still a very young teenager.
Nicola Smith spoke openly about the emptiness of a life that appears to have so much, and of her current work as corporate fundraiser for the Five Stars Scanner appeal. She described this as public relations work, and it’s a version of public relations that appeals to many first year students.
It’s public relations as personal networking; public relations as party and event organising; public relations that uses celebrity connections.
Last week in the lecture theatre I tried to distinguish two things that are often confused: the use of PR in support of major events, and the use of events to support PR campaigns. PR is not the same thing as event management (several universities follow Leeds Metropolitan in teaching both as entirely separate disciplines, in this case delivered in different faculties), though there is some overlap in the skills needed. I view event management as a left-side-of-brain activity involving painstaking attention to detail and public relations as a right-sided activity that involves creative ‘ideas management’.
As student Megan Parks writes, the PR event organiser will find she’s Not Quite JLo.
The connection between awareness raising and fundraising is a question for another lecture.