Is it an art or a science? Can it be measured? Has it achieved professional status? Can you learn it?
These questions do apply to public relations, but they equally apply to management since the study of public relations belongs in the same area of enquiry. For this reason, I hugely enjoyed Stefan Stern’s mischievous review of management fads in the current issue of Management Today.
Public relations has its excellence theory (James Grunig in place of Tom Peters); it’s been gripped by millennial visions of technological transformation; CSR is the three letter acronym (TLA) of our day. Nice is the new nasty.
And today? [writes Stern] I sense another shifting of the balance of power between the cold steel of execution and the warm fluff of Web 2.0. Suddenly, it seems acceptable again to acknowledge the human factor in business. Niceness is back in vogue, at least for some of the time. People are talking about strategy not just in visionary terms but also in emotional ones. In the era of globalisation, corporate social responsibility (another dreaded TLA) is maturing and growing into something more serious and substantial. And behind all this, the big Green question of sustainability looms large.