From the Thinking Allowed email from yesterday, mention of Lawrie Taylor's experience of years earlier when asked to help with a piece of market research:
I’d always assumed these big companies – and this was one of the biggest – must be entirely independent bodies. Not at all. The first question their representative asked could hardly have been less objective. ‘What sort of results are you looking for?’ he asked. ‘Well’ said my man from the PR company. ‘We’d rather like to find that the public would welcome more retail facilities on forecourts.’
‘Good’ said the polling man, making a note. ‘And will you need a cover organisation to publish the results?’ ‘Preferably’ said my man.
In no more than sixty seconds I’d been give a perfect demonstration of how the PR industry works.
And people in the market research and PR industries wonder why we don't get more respect.
I know that there are many (not most, but many) people in the industries that would blanch at this as I do, but until there is a visible, conscious and concerted effort to change these practices, we're always going to be tarred with the same brush.