The view from a PR man


Public relations is not a "magic wand" in industrial disputes, says PR consultant Pat Montague.

A public-relations strategy does not create something that doesn't otherwise exist; it doesn't trade in illusions. So Montague said in a recent interview with Industrial Relations News (IRN).

Montague is one of a small but growing number of public-relations practitioners who work with trade unions. He developed PR strategies for the Dunnes Stores workers, the nurses' unions, the airline pilots and, currently, for the Irish Bank Official Association in its dispute with the Ulster Bank.

He is not involved in the ASTI's dispute.

In IRN earlier this year he explained that PR "tries to bring out the underlying causes or reasons why a dispute takes place and explain the personal reasons behind it."

Speaking of the power of public opinion, he said: "There is no question that if public opinion is supportive of a particular group of workers it does give a greater strength, a greater moral persuasion and, ultimately, in settlement terms, it gives them greater power."