Improper Use of PR Can Cause ‘Chaos’

PR practitioners, be careful how you wield that weapon. A story out of Malaysia’s National News Agency cautions that “a nation can be destroyed if public relations expertise is misused by its PR practitioners.”

Institute of Public Relations Malaysia president Datuk Mohd Hamdan Adnan said communications could cause “chaos” by affecting public opinion, and pushed for a Public Relations Profession Act to encourage further monitoring and training for industry professionals.

“Among the negative activities of certain media practitioners are spin doctoring, flacking, astroturfing, opponent defining and fronting. All these can threaten peace and order in the country,” he is quoted as saying at a recent media talk.

Public relations is a key tool in the country’s migration toward industrialization, a study suggests. It posits that in addition to “assessing public attitudes and maintaining mutual relations and understanding between an organization and its public,” it can also be useful in addressing the country’s diverse population.

It is important to explore the role public relations practitioners can play to improve public relations on business strategy and reduce any complexities in understanding multi-cultural issues among the three major ethnic groups, the Malay, Chinese and Indian, as well as other ethnicities, including expatriates.

Copies of the first draft of an Act were drawn up in 1999 and sent to the Information Ministry and Attorney-General’s Chambers, said Adnan.

He pointed to the United Kingdom, Greece, Brazil, Nigeria, and Panama as already having Acts governing PR as a profession.