Future-proof PR

28 Mar

Richard Edelman writes about a visit to Ball State University – and feels there’s room for improvement in the teaching of public relations. (I was talking to David last night about the need to reinvigorate our teaching along similar lines.) In summary: PR has to be taught in context; we must move away from an obsession with print; students need to join in conversations, not just write for the newspaper.

Meanwhile, there’s a call in Australia for all academics to blog (via Corporate Engagement): ‘Blogging is not a distraction from scholarship – instead it should be recognised as being one of the most effective mechanisms for scholarship.’ (Let’s remember that Tim Berners-Lee had academic discourse in mind when he created the World Wide Web.)

3 Responses to “Future-proof PR”

  1. David Phillips 30/03/2006 at 9:41 am #

    Richard
    After 48 hours, the evidence that I/we have not been tough enough with practitioners and educators is becomming a fever.
    Public Relations faces its own tsunami. It is The Big Digital Wave.
    I feel that I have let them down. People like the CIPR, the in-house PR folk and the educators. We have let them be lazy, impressed with their own importance (including a Right Royal Charter and rubish numbers about the size of the industry) and numb minded and numb skulled refusal to acknowledge that digits are dangerous too.
    For the member/employers/students of these institutions to wake up one day to find that the everyday use of the Internet could mean dismissal of personnel or worse and they not only did not see it comming they did not even know it was comming, is a failiure.
    No doubt the Universities and training agencies that run PR courses now have a lecture that says ‘This is the most common reason for Ministers of the crown to get sacked’; ‘This is the most common reason people don’t trust on-line banking’; ‘This is the most common reason for brand attack’….
    The Big Digital Wave did for Jo Moore, switched off Barclays on-line banking for days and rubbished Kryptonite. All three were PR issues. They were just unlucky to be patting sand castles beside the digital waters and are among erly casualties.
    There are three big PR online issues: Transparency, Agency and Porosity arround which all other PR activity has to focus: analysis of the public sphere/culture, corporate culture, risk management; relationship planning, engagement in the long conversation, change.

  2. Richard Bailey 30/03/2006 at 10:41 am #

    I read your thoughts at Leverwealth (http://leverwealth.blogspot.com/2006/03/when-strange-things-start-to-happen.html) and broadly agree. But here’s my question about PR manager as relationship manager: can we see the job description? Where do the responsibilities of this omnipotent and omniscient person begin and end? On the seventh day…

  3. David Phillips 30/03/2006 at 8:06 pm #

    🙂 A challenge ………
    So, here you are on your first day as Relationship Manager……
    You introduce the idea that groups in the organisation (irrespective of the ‘rank’ of member – or even if they all get thier direct salary from the ‘organisation’) shall, from time to time, explore the nature and inherent values associated with their network of (internal/external) relationships. For example who is in a relationship with the group and which are relatively more important, influential, friendly or not (there is software to help do this – I hate to do commercials on someone else’s blog).
    Then ask this group (or department) to set themselves realistic targets to optimise such relationships… and measure themselves against progress.
    The relationships (as with ALL public relations) are down to people at ‘the coal face’. Empowering colleagues to both identify and optimise relationships (this does not mean being cuddly and nice to all and sundry at all) will up their game. Especially when they know how well other groups are doing (competition is a primitive – neural – driver).
    Now this means handing over ‘control’. The Relationship Manager is not ‘in-charge of relationships’. The role is about helping, inspiring and leading people to facilitate and enhance/optimise relationship management.
    So now we have a Relationship Manager who has devolved Public Relations to where it counts, can advise and mentor and can measure effectiveness and re-cast the future need.
    All, I can say is PBPO (poor bloody press officer/agency) who now has to work at press relations as the press takes second place to direct communication… but who said life was fair.
    The job ends when the Board asks – who are the people we have a relationship with and what do we do to optimise the relationship.
    Guess who they all have to turn to for advice….
    Job Description:
    Over three years, progressively optimise relationships between the culture of the organisation and the culture in which we thrive.
    But that is not the same as the technical job that has to be done to survive the Big Digital Wave. Grand designs have to wait on survival!

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