Max Clifford key note speech at Leeds Met #CIPRNC

By on Wednesday, October 31, 2012

See for yourself: Leeds Met’s video of the speech.

Max Clifford regularly endures a huge amount of blame for the ‘bad’ reputation of t

he PR industry, and as he addressed PR students and practitioners at Leeds Met today, that was no different.

There were some very interesting moments of sincerity, I have to admire his straight forward nature. His closing statement sums that up entirely, “I hope I haven’t offended too many people. If I have, I don’t mind”.

The last topic I ever expected to agree with Max Clifford about would be ethics – surprisingly I think he hits the nail on the head with his stance. Some quotes I noted from him are,

Back your own judgement.

Use common sense.

I have to be comfortable with what I’m getting involved with.

Get involved in what you believe and what you believe in.

However, the element of both the speech and discussion that I particularly didn’t enjoy was the presumptions. Max I’m sure knew that at an event hosted by the CIPR he would face difficult questions on ethics. I felt the majority of his initial talk was about explaining his own credibility as a publicist – a summary of his career, with not much emphasis on how that transfers to the audience – more like a defense.

A defense of what was to soon come during Q & A. I have to say I mostly felt rather uncomfortable during the discussion (which at times felt more like arguing).

Although Max may not be an ideal PR role model, there is clearly demand for the service he provides. His company charges £20,000 monthly rate minimum, and yet still never has to pitch for business. Successful in his role since the 60’s, I would say entitles Max to a certain degree of respect.

Max openly admits some of his more questionable tactics, saying he doesn’t wish to be taken seriously as a corporate communicator, he is happy with his publicist role, saying “I love it as much now as I did in the early 60’s”.

Additionally, Max never claims to practice ethical PR, he has never been part of any professional body, other than that of the National Union of Journalism – which only confirms for me his love of the media from both sides.

As a public relations person you must only ever be honest… Apparently

Q: Have you ever put out facts that you know to be untrue? Max: Yes.

Is the truth important? Of course it is. But it’s not the only thing that’s important.

What I loved to hear was Max’s down to earth moments, where he talked about being in a position to help others, for example being involved with the Big C Choir, or working for some clients free of charge if he believes in them. Don’t get me wrong I’m not endorsing Max, but I believe that there are PR roles in the ‘celebrity culture’ to be filled, Max is great at it and uses his position to do good. I’d say that’s commendable.

And finally, he confirmed what our tutors say,

There is no substitute for practical work. Learn the realities of it. Use a combination of theoretical and practical.

His thoughts on the industry,

Image is everything. It is a wonderful industry to potentially go into. Whoever you work for, you will be responsible in a small way for their success, it’s an amazing thing.To me it’s been an incredible adventure

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