November 9, 2016 Andy Green

Why PR needs a campaign against ‘Fluffy PR’.


I keep telling people that in the world of public relations there is a ‘monster’. It is holding back but could ultimately destroy PR, consigning it to become a dinosaur in the world of ye olde marketing communications.

The recent AMEC’s Measurement Month in September provided an opportunity for the agency where I work as an Associate, Smoking Gun PR, to launch a crusade against this monster.

The monster is called ‘Fluffy PR’.

Check out this brilliant two-minute animated film on the secret of how this monster can be destroyed.

Here is the link to the two-minute film.

Here is the link to the four-minute version of the film.

The film uses a Cinderella-inspired storyline of ‘Wilemena-No-Mates’, who, thanks to her fairy godmother, a penguin, discovers the Land of Intelligent Measurement where she consigns her arch-enemy, ‘Fluffy PR’, to the trash can.

You might be thinking ‘isn’t this a bit childlike? Whimsical?’

Yes, but it overcomes the typical scenario of people’s eyes glazing over whenever you talk about measurement and evaluation in PR or communications. We thought hard about how we could achieve cut-through, to break the pattern of ‘this is boring detail’.

‘Fluffy PR’ is best described through a rather crude story once told to one of the Smoking Gun PR team who worked for Eric, a car dealer in Bradford, West Yorkshire. He shared his view that “PR was like a corporate wetsuit.” When asked to explain, he elaborated in his forthright manner: “You pee in it and it gives you a nice warm feeling.”

Too much PR falls readily into the category of generating a self-serving warm glow, like what Eric described as a ‘corporate wetsuit’; it may feel good at the time, but what is the real impact and lasting legacy?

Fluffy PR is the nice warm feeling for the sake of a nice warm feeling. It characterises too much of what constitutes ‘public relations practice’.

I like how Rick Guttridge, MD of Smoking Gun PR, describes the evaluation efforts of most PR agencies: “It’s like trusting schoolkids to mark their own homework.”

Measurement and evaluation has for too long been the Cinderella of public relations and communications practice; usually listed at the end in public relations programmes, yet a reality of lip service.

In a digital age successful public relations and communications practice has to have intelligent measurement at its heart.

Intelligent measurement offers a new way ahead for public relations. It does however require a new mindset, reframing ‘evaluation and measurement’ as a critical feature of modern-day public relations practice.

Share the wisdom and spread the mantra: “PR without intelligent measurement is… ‘Fluffy PR’”.

What can you do in the crusade against ‘Fluffy PR’?

If you want to find out more about how you can get to the ‘Land of Intelligent Measurement’ in your PR, get in touch. Find out more about Smoking Gun PR here.