Cover of Trust Me, PR is Dead

Latest updates

2017: Let the light get in

Friday, 23 December 2016


“Forget your perfect offering”, wrote the poet Leonard Cohen, “there’s a crack in everything … that is how the light gets in”.

2016 was not the perfect offering. Cracks were plain for all to see. Democracy under threat; maybe in crisis. An anxious world.

We may not have reached the bottom yet. We share a collective responsibility in 2017 to escape the darkness, to rescue hope and optimism…

2017: A Year of Tomorrow

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Many of the themes we explored in Trust Me, PR is Dead exploded into ugly life in 2016 - from Farage, Brexit and Trump to Jeremy Corbyn's unlikely social movement that is Momentum. It gives me little comfort to have called it early - warning that the vacuum of leadership and the continued exclusion of the 99% would create challenges the likes of which we had not seen in generations. 

What is to…

A Time of Disbelief

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

With emergence of Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican candidate in the US and the various mis-truths told by politicians campaigning for a Leave vote in the UK, politics and political leadership have sunk to a new low. It seems that it is now acceptable to lie or, as Michael Gove memorably said, to re-think "promises" only as "possibilities".

We should have seen it coming - the descent from…

If only David Cameron had read the book ....

Monday, 11 April 2016


..... he would not have spent a week trying to spin his way out of the mess (and failing miserably). Meanwhile, everyone is talking about trust once again - and mostly missing the point....

I have just published this short blog on

Trust Me, PR is Dead - One Year On

Sunday, 14 February 2016

“Men on mountaintops, shouting through megaphones” is how KPMG’s Global Head of Tax Jane McCormick describes the old way of doing things. And it is usually men.

These words reverberate as I watch a Parliamentary Select Committee savage yet another senior executive. While compelling viewing, it seems to achieve little, except vent public frustration. Is that enough?

A barrister friend asks why…

The bankruptcy of corporate leadership?

Monday, 7 December 2015

Martin Vogel, co-founder of "counter-consultancy" Vogel Wakefield, published this review of Trust Me, PR is Dead last Friday.

I am hugely indebted. I think Martin captures the essence of the book and its arguments far more eloquently than I ever do....

Please feel free to…

PR is Dead. Contradictions on the downfall of monarchy

Thursday, 3 December 2015

The following is the text of the 2015 John Campbell Lecture, delivered on November 30 2015, on behalf of Republic – the campaign for an elected Head of State.

Good evening.

It is a privilege to deliver the 2015 John Campbell Lecture.

When it comes to the monarchy, I have three questions:

Can the British Royal family overcome the tectonic shifts of our time and defy logic to…

What Amazon says, goes

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Publishing a book "properly" (as my mother puts it) teaches you many things - not least that there are quite a few people who insist on telling you what book you should have written, even though that was the book that you never intended to write. Some of them even heckle at conferences.

I make no apologies for not writing a tedious self-help book, even though I may have sold more at airports.

Good business must challenge bad politics

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Trust Me, PR is Dead includes a section on the ugliness of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and how this has been hijacked in recent years by a measurement- and compliance-obsessed business culture. For me, social responsibility in good businesses demands vision, leadership, compassion as well as a willingness to stand up to bad politics. Nowhere is this as important right now than on the challenging…

Radio Silence

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Apologies for recent radio silence from the shed. June and July have been busy months on the road.

Here are a couple of short film excerpts.

The first was recorded for  the European Association of Communications Directors annual forum in Brussels - a straight-to-camera riff on truth, trust & transarency. You can watch the video here.

The second is an interview recorded at Future Comms 2015…

Who Can You Trust?

Sunday, 7 June 2015

 “We act with integrity. We maintain the highest ethical standards and transparency in our work and in our dealings with customers, partners, stakeholders and fellow employees. We keep our commitments. We are honest, fair and trustworthy”.

This is the values statement of which company?

Thomas Cook.

Thomas Cook is guilty of what some would call an Epic Failure.

Finding faith in business

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Last week’s highlight was a thoughtful inter-faith dinner hosted at Magdalene College, Cambridge by Dr Rowan Williams - part of the on-going Responsible Tax project, curated by Think Tank CoVi and supported by KPMG.

The ‘F-word’ has never been far from the surface in months of discussions on responsible and ethical business practice.  Some of the wisest words spoken have come less from business…

An "intellectual idealist" and "something less ordinary": two recent reviews.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Dear Supporters and Friends

A couple of recent reviews I thought worth sharing....

The first is from the UK edition of PR Week and the second is from Professor Lee Edwards at Leeds University.

It looks as though the hardback edition of the book has now sold out - the paperback comes out in June. More on this soon.

With best wishes



Trust me, it's Easter

Saturday, 4 April 2015

I am thrilled that nearly 300 supporters have this weekend - finally - received their Special Edition copies of Trust Me, PR is Dead. I hope everyone finds it provocative and funny in equal measure. I would of course love your continued feedback.

Just before Easter, I found myself metaphorically wedged between PM David Cameron and Labour's (shadow) Business spokesperson Chukka Umunna. The occasion…

Two quickies from me

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Dear Supporter

I thought you might be interested in my most recent article for International Business Times:

If you get the chance, follow the link and listen to Bryan Stevenson on Desert Island Discs. His story is mesmerising and his commitment to the cause(s) more powerful still.


Why purpose needs process

Monday, 2 March 2015

I have just posted this blog for Compass, the think tank for a good society:

We cannot help deliver a common good without a common realm in which to discuss it. No-one has all the answers and no-one has the right to own the debate. Adult-to-adult conversations are needed in business and politics…

Accusations of "sensationalism" may be understandable - but they are wrong

Saturday, 14 February 2015

So, the week ended with a flurry of somewhat pointless exchanges in social media about the title of my book. The irony was not lost: two or three senior (PR) industry leaders agreeing with the substance of the argument but constantly taking issue with the title. Some are clearly reluctant to look beyond the headlines and opt for easy soundbites instead. They are maybe fearful of what lurks beneath…

"A passionate revelation on the road to Damascus" - Huffington Post review

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Margaret Heffernan - a personal hero and the author of the quite brilliant Wilful Blindness and A Bigger Prize - has just posted this review on The Huffington Post.

I am really chuffed.

Have you downloaded your copy of Trust Me, PR Is Dead yet?

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Just a quick note to all supporters.

You may not realise it, but the eBook is now available to download ...

It was released by publishers Unbound last week - due to demand :-). The special edition hardback will be with you in March.

To download, please sign-in to Unbound and go to the eBook section. You can then choose the format - Kindle, iBook etc. It will cost you nothing!

Three early…

First reviews

Sunday, 1 February 2015

The Kindle and iBook version of Trust Me, PR Is Dead went on sale last week. All supporters of the project (thank you!) received a notification and should now be able to downoad their copy. Please let me know what you think when you get a chance to read it in full. I would love your feedback. 

(If you encounter any technical difficulties, btw, please let publishers Unbound know).

The book…

"A riveting good read"

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Earlier this week, we circulated preview copies of Trust Me, PR Is Dead. I am happy to report that initial feedback has been really positive. Let's hope it stays that way.

"Sizzling" commented one journalist. "Incendiary" observed an industry blogger. "Brilliant" and "surprisingly emotional" said two colleagues. More importantly, Trust Me, PR Is Dead is "a riveting good read" according to the global…

Guest blog: Die! PR! Die! Die! Die! by Dan Slee

Monday, 1 December 2014

The world is changing and PR with it. If you work in PR or communications there is a book and set of arguments you’ll be hearing more of in the New Year. It cuts to the heart of what public relations is and does.

by Dan Slee

Fueled by a bottle of red wine a frustrated journalist and blogger wrote a bold post in 2006 called ‘Die! Press Release! Die! Die! Die!’ that took an axe to one of the standard…

Guest blog: Trust the People, by Neal Lawson

Friday, 28 November 2014

A hugely successful PR man of some 30 years standing organizes a launch for his book “Trust Me, PR Is dead”.  It’s held in a swanky business school auditorium with wine, nibbles, name badges and a panel handpicked by the author to largely agree with him.   PR is dead? You’re having a laugh, right?

We did have a laugh – there were some great lines – but Robert Phillips* is right. PR is dead.  It…

Picture the book - Trust Me, PR Is Dead

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Trust Me, PR Is Dead is peppered with interviews, case studies and anecdotes. Over one hundred characters feature - Virgin's Richard Branson and EDF's CEO Vincent de Rivaz; philosophers Baroness Onoora O'Neill and Michael Sandel; the genius of Margaret Heffernan and Tony Judt. Oh, and Elizabeth Windsor (The Queen) and Vladimir Putin (The President). Look out also for a camel, two men called Douglas…

Burn The System on Bonfire Night

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

My Jericho partners and I thought it would be fun to publish "Revolutionary Times", described by some as "an antiode to the McKinsey Quarterly". My piece focuses on why I believe that the failure to introduce wholesale constitutional reform - and not Iraq - was Tony Blair's greatest failure. 

Given the theme of this issue, we thought it appropriate to release the first issue on November 5th. VAT…

Gender is a leadership issue

Monday, 27 October 2014

Another tale from the cutting room floor.

This piece was eventually excluded from the final manuscript because, as the editors noted, it is worthy of a book in its own right. I would agree.

* * *

Alaric Mostyn, founder of Stonecourt Consulting and now a colleague at Jericho Chambers, has been one of the more vocal and important crowd-contributors to this book.

“There is” he writes “a strong…

Redemption - a data allegory

Saturday, 18 October 2014

The manuscript for Trust Me, PR Is Dead is now safely in the hands of the publishers, Unbound. We will of course let you know publication dates soon - please rest assured that the book's supporters will receive the first copies. My original manuscript ran to about 110,000 words (too long; I was excited) which the brilliant Phil Connor and Isobel Frankish have now reduced to a more compact,  digestible…

If everything is dead, what comes next? (an invitation to join a live crowd conversation)

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Much has been said and written about the death of old business models, the age of constant disruption and the much-vaunted (if somewhat clichéd) paradigm shift from the traditional to the creative economy.

Clichés, however, are sometimes clichés because they are true. The bigger question is that, if every model is dead or dying, what comes next?

On Thursday 27th November, Jericho Chambers…

The Road to Jericho: Atonement, One Year On

Saturday, 4 October 2014

It is almost one year to the day that George Pitcher, Jules Peck, Christine Armstrong and I launched Jericho Chambers, billed as a community of experts and "the antidote to McKinsey and WPP". We have since grown to a group of fourteen partners. We have spent the past twelve months asking and answering bigger questions for a range of FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies. Like us, they are determined…

The Road to Jericho: Atonement, One Year On

Saturday, 4 October 2014

It is almost one year to the day that George Pitcher, Jules Peck, Christine Armtsrong and I launched Jericho Chambers, billed as a community of experts and "the antidote to McKinsey and WPP". We have since grown to a group of fourteen partners. We have spent the past twelve months asking and answering bigger questions for a range of FTSE 100 and Fortune 500 companies. Like us, they are determined…

Sharpening Thoughts

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Earlier this week, Communication Director magazine - a European title - published a feature on Trust Me, PR Is Dead. For those following the book's progress, you will be familiar with many of the core arguments - though my Jericho Chambers co-founder, George Pitcher, kindly suggested that he thinks this is the sharpest and most effective summary so far. George is a lovely bloke. You can make your…

Manuscript Submitted

Sunday, 13 July 2014

This is just a short note to let you know that at 4.58pm today, I (finally) delivered the manuscript to Dan and Isobel at Unbound. Thank you, once again, to the whole community who have helped make this project happen - the  226+ supporters who contributed to the crowd-funding and to the many who have taken part via interviews and e-mails  (t he footnotes alone run to twelve pages). As it…

Thank You

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Yesterday, we passed the 100% funding target for the book. We have built a community of over 200 supporters, many of whom have become active participants in the thinking and writing process. The book is much wiser and more authentic for it - proof positive of the collective power and legitimacy of crowds  and, as publisher Dan Kieran has written in one of the Afterwords, further evidence that the…

Kindred Spirits and the Harbingers of Death

Sunday, 22 June 2014

If nothing else, the crowd-funding for Trust Me, PR Is Dead has ignited a series of web memes and some great conversations.

Tom Fletcher, HM Ambassador to Lebanon (who I have never met), started the trend with a post on the death of traditional diplomacy. “Substitute ‘traditional diplomacy’ for ‘PR’ and we can see a similar challenge”, he wrote.

“Diplomacy has detached itself from public debate…

Big Bang Theories and the Kabbalah of PR

Sunday, 15 June 2014

I have been thinking about the Lurianic Kabbalah this week – the medieval, mystical Judaic texts that seek to explain the chaos of the world and to understand what it will take to return to order, human fulfilment and/ or Messianic arrival (the three may not be unrelated).

As I have written before, I am a Jewish atheist, so attracted by the Kabbalah theory of the sparks on grounds of poetry and…

The Long Weekend

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

I spent most of the UK Bank Holiday Weekend editing and tidying Part Three of the book: "What Is To Be Done?". It opens with a chapter entitled "The Road to Jericho"  and considers what organisations need to do to to address issues of substance, not spin. (As a teaser, the first three are (i) Tell the truth; (ii) Break the business model; and (iii) Create a new corporate culture. I also clarify…

The Sunday Times ... Social Movements and Public Value

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Last week, The Sunday Times asked me to author an article on the death of PR. I think they wanted to link it to the imprisonment of celebrity publicist Max Clifford - I pointed out that his downfall and my thoughts on the imminent demise of the industry follow two very distinct strands of argument. The piece is now scheduled to run at a later date. However, I thought I would share it here in my…

"PR ist tot" (apparently)

Sunday, 18 May 2014

For those fluent in German....

For those lost in translation, here it is again (via "PRMagazin")...

Q: Please give us an abbreviated version: Why is PR dead?

The current model of “Public Relations” is no longer fit for purpose. It was born in a diminishing age of hierarchies and institutional authority and relies too heavily…

Almost There ...

Sunday, 27 April 2014

I have spent the last week on "holiday", editing and fine-tuning part two of the book. This charts the rise of Public Leadership and the implications not just for Public Relations and communications but for the real worlds of business and politics, too. Public Leadership, I argue, needs to be be matched with a new sense of Public Value. There will be no return to "old" trust (the world is too chaotic…

The Great Schism

Thursday, 10 April 2014

In an article in the Financial Times on Tuesday 8 April 2014, the journalist Emma Jacobs noted that some business leaders were turning away from PR because they failed to see where it demonstrated value. “I do not know what it does for us”, said one executive, “except add corporate-speak”.

The article is well worth a read, not least because it rightly challenges the orthodoxy that "only…

"With all the emotional objectivity of a parent whose child has been called ugly"

Sunday, 30 March 2014

I have never met Joe Kelly, a point he also makes in the blog he posted today.

But, like Richard Fletcher, Martin Vogel and George Pitcher, Joe clearly gets why the argument is important and timely. He undersatnds that there are progressives among us - rightly taking issue with the many sleepwalkers out there.

I am not the Grim PReaper, nor is it my intention to be sensationalist. I firmly…

The Media Is Not The Message. The Media Isn't Even The Media Anymore

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

If you have been following the on-line discussions on the future of PR since last Friday - this - from my Jericho Chambers co-founder George Pitcher - is an absolute must-read:

PR Is Dead - But The Body Is Still Twitching

Sunday, 23 March 2014

It has been an interesting week. Colin Byrne, UK & EMEA CEO of Weber Shandwick, launched a rather ill-informed personal attack on me on Friday, deciding that he, rather than me, knew my motivation for writing a book entitled “Trust Me, PR Is Dead”.

Colin remains a good friend but, for the record, he was wrong.

Meanwhile, someone I had never met on the other side of the Atlantic elected…

But Is Diplomacy Dead, Too?

Friday, 21 March 2014

This blog from Tom Fletcher, HM Ambassador to Lebanon and (aka The Naked Diplomat), is absolutely worrth a read (and not just because of the echoing shades of Trust Me, PR Is Dead)

PS. My final chapter is called David, Standing Naked. Nudity seems to be in fashion.

If PR Week publishes it, it must be true....

Monday, 17 March 2014

From Narrative-Based Public Relations to Activist Public Leadership

Monday, 17 March 2014

Last Friday, PR Week Magazine published an OpEd from me on why I believe that PR is dead and why Public Leadership is the future. For reasons of space (I think/ hope) a few lines were omitted from the final version. So here is my original text, in full .... there has to be a better way.

PR Is Dead. Public Leadership Is The Future

There has long been a debate about whether Public…

Transformation Needs Participation

Sunday, 16 March 2014

It is now nearly 18 months since I quit my job at Edelman, the world's largest Public Relations firm, as President & CEO of Europe, the Middle East & Africa and as Global Chair of its Public Engagement & Future Strategies group.

I spent most of 2013 thinking through "what next?" for the Public Relations industry - for both its philosophy and its business models. At the same time, with help from…

Transformation Needs Participation

Sunday, 16 March 2014

It is now nearly 18 months since I quit my job at Edelman, the world's largest Public Relations firm, as President & CEO of Europe, the Middle East & Africa and as Global Chair of its Public Engagement & Future Strategies group.

I spent most of 2013 thinking through "what next?" for the Public Relations industry - for both its philosophy and its business models. At the same time, with help from…

The self-destruction of Euan Sutherland

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

One of the chapters in Trust Me, PR Is Dead explores the need for businesses to "mutualise the thinking, if not the business model". It would appear that Euan Sutherland was attempting to do just this at the Co-Op, somehow hoping to protect the mutual spirit of the organisation he led, while putting in place more "conventional" operating structures. It was an unhappy and, as it turned out, unworkable…

Publication date: June 2015
123% funded
347 backers