Every week I talk to at least half dozen Public Relations professionals, and most of them refer to the profession with inter changing words – some call it PR, most call it communications, many others prefix communications with marketing or corporate or brand or strategic. Then a few others say corporate affairs or public affairs. Now, there are terms such as communications marketing and public engagement.
I’m convinced that Public Relations is all encompassing and every other term used is a subset of Public Relations. Public Relations includes engagement, communications and marketing. However, over the years for one-upmanship marketers in many situations have tried to make Public Relations seem like a part of their function which has worked for some reasons.
In my opinion the chief executive of the company is the principal Public Relations Officer. S/he in turn appoints public relations executives or a team to be assisted in managing important relationships especially those with key stakeholders including journalists, analysts and customers.
It is time to have an overarching global body that co-creates and remains the custodian of a Public Relations manifesto. It has to be a body that has a central office with a secretariat that rotates across continents, even if it is mere symbolism. If not big brother, Uncle Sam will make it seem like all Public Relations doctrine is US centric. That is the case because of the deep pockets that the market offers.
We are not mere communicators, we are not mere content creators, we are not mere storytellers, we are not mere media relations people or crisis managers. We are Public Relations professionals who do one or more of the tasks mentioned in the previous sentence. Public Relations is deeper than what it is made out to be. It is a deadly combination of advising on building trust (through behavior), to counselling on earning goodwill (through actions), to creating positive influence (through communications) in order to have a formidable reputation.
So, next time someone asks you, what you do – pussyfooting by saying I’m in communications may not be a nice thing. Be bold enough to say you work in Public Relations. And tell them public relations is a cocktail with equal parts of four deadly ingredients. These include content creation, connecting with stakeholders, counselling management and crisis management. Whether you work in-house or in a consultancy you work on one or more of the above aspects.
If you ever get your ears on the audio of Paul Holmes’ speech at the ICCO Summit in Helsinki you will realise how Public Relations is the all-encompassing profession we are all in. This can be debated for ever but the truth cannot be denied. We are all part of an amazing profession where we create influence, working with influencers, ideally for a better planet.