Today’s FT article – titled When CEOs should ditch the “PR polish” – has upset a lot of people in the marketing and PR business.

It’s easy to react to the headline – coupled with parts of the article recognising Ecotricity founder Dale Vince for “bucking the trend of media-managed executives” – and assume it’s a piece bashing the whole discipline of public relations.

But it’s not. On closer reading, it’s an interesting, well-balanced article with sensible voices and a good range of views.

The issue stems from what Douglas Lamont, CEO of Dutch chocolate brand Tony’s Chocolonely, means by the “PR polish” which he says should be “ditched” – and which the FT chose for its headline. And we just don’t know what he meant.

If he’s talking about the tendency for some company spokespeople to spout insincere, robotic corporate lines, then he’s right. People see right through that: it doesn’t win them over and doesn’t build trust and credibility.

A problem only arises if, by “PR polish”, he means the whole practice of public relations and media training.

A well-judged approach to PR and media training does not stand in opposition to honesty, authenticity and plain speaking, but should enhance these. At the same time, it should help spokespeople stay within the reasonable boundaries of common sense and good corporate governance.

I once provided a briefing document and arranged a media coaching session for a media-unsavvy CEO, directly before his first journalist interview. He didn’t read the document and didn’t show up for the training. He just came for the interview – and proceeded to wax lyrical about all kinds of confidential information and personal revelations.

The ramifications for him and his company were painful. And later, he sheepishly said: “I had no idea they’d print all that!”

That kind of unfiltered straight-talking is rarely a good idea.