Back to Betjeman for a moment (this is from his poem Executive):
You ask me what it is I do. Well, actually, you know,
I’m partly a liaison man, and partly P.R.O.
This perfectly fits the shifty, elusive quality of the mid twentieth century public relations executive (down to the gender specific language). Now fast forward to today: what more do we know?
For those in their middle years and beyond, public relations is still seen as not quite, well, respectable. But for many young people it’s an exciting route into the worlds of media and celebrity. They see no downside.
So I’ve been seeking the simplest of defining phrases to give a snapshot of what’s involved in public relations. My phrase: ideas management. It’s not the complete picture, of course, but introduces newcomers to the raw material of public relations and hints at the qualities needed to succeed (a love of ideas – a willingness to generate, engage with, shape and communicate ideas – though not necessarily in an academic way).
I’m visiting students on work placements around the country at present and I’ve not seen anything to cause me to change my mind. If supervisors are critical, it’s that our students are willing to complete the task at hand, but don’t necessarily ‘go the extra mile’ (in other words, they don’t see the bigger picture).