FRIDAY 10 JAN 2020 5:33 PM

PRCA DEFENDS LONDON MAYOR’S PR SPEND

The PRCA today hit back at newspaper coverage criticising London Mayor Sadiq Khan for investing in in-house communicators.

City AM ran a story on Wednesday headlined ‘Sadiq Khan has increased press office spending by 26 per cent in four years’, based on a freedom of information act request.

“The article suggests Khan is ‘more concerned about PR than policy’, but what many fail to grasp is that you cannot have effective policy unless you understand the people you’re trying to reach,” said PRCA head of communications and marketing, Koray Camgoz.

“PR professionals play an essential role in helping businesses to understand these parameters. Our practice is not obsessed with publicity as has been reported – it encompasses a range of disciplines which are integral to any professionally run businesses.”
 
The City AM story is not the first time Khan has been panned for PR investment.

Home secretary Priti Patel told him to spend his money on police not PR in a letter last August, which alluded to Tory claims that Khan’s office had almost doubled its PR budget from £1.3m to £2.5m and which received mainstream media coverage.

The following month Tory London Assembly member Susan Hall dismissed London’s car-free day as a £1m PR stunt. “He’ll do a PR stunt and it doesn’t give anything worthwhile to Londoners out there,” she said on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show in September 2019. She was also quoted in this week’s story saying: “Ever since he was elected, Sadiq Khan has consistently and shamelessly prioritised wasting money on PR and bureaucracy.”

According to the City AM report, the Mayor’s Office spent £920,967.95 on communications officers in 2018-19, while predecessor Boris Johnson spent £732,537.42 in 2015-16. A spokesperson for Khan was quoted as saying that it was unfair to compare the current Mayor’s Office budget with that of his predecessor because “the previous Mayor was reducing the scope of his administration during his last year at City Hall”.

“Ultimately, PR professionals build trust between organisations and their stakeholders by delivering honest, timely and accurate information to those who need it. The PRCA stands shoulder to shoulder with communications professionals and will always champion the value of their work. Too often, our industry is a soft-target for lazy attacks by those who lack an understanding of what public relations entails,” Camgoz said.

The Mayor’s Office has been contacted for comment.

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