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PR industry image hit by the art of spin

LONDON - The rise of spin has gone hand in hand with the decline of the image of the public relations industry over the last two years, according to research presented at a PRWeek conference yesterday.

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The study, carried out by Echo Research, showed the image of PR had deteriorated severely since the last survey was carried out two years ago.

Speaking at the PR and the Media conference, keynote speaker, BBC political correspondent Nicholas Jones, attributed the decline to the "dark art of political and monarchical spin".

"Since 1999, the situation has worsened -- support for PR in the press has more than halved, with only 9% of articles surveyed showing positive mentions, down from 22% two years ago, while media criticisms have climbed from 19% to 28%," Echo Research CEO Sandra Macleod said.

The conference was told by journalists that it needed to improve its image. "There is a danger of encouraging other [PR] sectors, such as financial PR, to mimic the government's malpractices," Jones said.

Kate Nicholas, editor of PRWeek and conference chair, said: "There is a real need for the industry to distance itself from the kind of practices that undermine its reputation."

Other speakers at the event included Kirstie Hamilton, City editor of the Sunday Times who is soon to join financial PR shop Tulchan Communications, and Simon Walker, the Queen's press secretary.

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