Wanted: angry young women (and men)

24 Sep

We’re welcoming new students to the university this week. Expectations are high: they have every right to expect that we know what we’re doing. But they shouldn’t…

Tomorrow’s leaders are people who know they can do better, who see a gap in the market and have the commitment to go for it. Here are some of that gaps that exist:

  • Why isn’t public relations a proper profession?
  • Why can’t anyone explain how PR differs from marketing?
  • Why don’t lecturers and current PR practitioners understand social media?
  • Why is there such a disconnect between theory and practice?
  • Why is media relations still so important a PR tool (see discussion below)?

If any of this makes you angry… good. If you don’t believe you can change the world now, then you never will.

6 Responses to “Wanted: angry young women (and men)”

  1. David Reich 25/09/2007 at 3:45 pm #

    I’ll give some very brief answers to the questions posed above. Each could be a lengthy discussion of itself.
    1) I never considered PR not to be a “proper” profession. If it’s done properly and professionally, it serves a valuable purpose for businesses and organizations. If this question means why are p.r. people not licensed, that’s another discussion. (I’ve been talking about licensing at my 2 cents, at http://reichcomm.typepad.com )
    2) It’s been explained many times. PR and marketing have many areas where they overlap. There are cases where p.r. is used as a marketing tool. There are also times when advertising and other marketing tactics may be used as a p.r. tool, to help communicate a point of view. They are not always separate… and why must they be?
    3) Some p.r. practicioners do understand social media, so this is a sweeping generality that’s unfair and inaccurate. Because it’s such a new medium, p.r. people (and marketers as well) are still trying to find ways to utilize social media effectively and ethically. Unfortunatelky, there are still many p.r. practicioners who don’t seem to understand traditiional media or they wouldn’t pitch reporters stories that are off-target or call them on deadline. Both are common complains we hear from the media.
    4) I can;t explain this one. It’s a good question. People may talk a good game, but when it comes down to it, they’ll take shortcuts or forget about ethics in order to achieve their goal. I’m afraid this is true in many professions and is not unqiue to public relations.
    5) Media relations remains an important p.r. tool because there’s demand for it. If business and organizations could find a way to get their messages out without paying us to help them, they’d use it and we’d be looking for other work.
    Media relations tactics could stand some improvement. Too many needless news releases, for example, are sent out to long lists that include media and others who shouldn’t be receiving them. Too many p.r. people still hound reporters, call on deadline or without a clue of what that reporter covers, and then they won’t take no for an answer.
    But media relations still serves a necessary purpose, as do all the other areas of public relations that often get overlooked.
    These brief and simplified answers come from 35 years in the p.r. business in the U.S., working in this nation’s most competitive market — New York City. I’ve done mainly media relations, but my work hasd also encompassed investor relations, employee relations, criis planning and communications, executive speechwriting and more.

  2. Heather Yaxley 25/09/2007 at 5:13 pm #

    I would like to think your students can start to find the answers to some of these questions among the many excellent texts, journal articles and blogs that are available to enquiring minds.
    Personally, I think that the 4th question helps explain some of the others. If more practitioners understood what some of the academics are pondering, and vice versa, then we might be closer to PR as a profession, differentiating PR from marketing (where appropriate) and challenging media relations as the only tool in the village.
    As we discussed the other day, I am hopeful that this year’s students will have some social media understanding – not least to be engaging with online discussion, eg here and at PR Conversations, etc.
    As David said, there are many lecturers and current PR practitioners who do understand social media. I believe we’ll move further along the adoption curve this year.

  3. Philip 25/09/2007 at 8:12 pm #

    Great questions. You, I and our colleagues have three years to try and help people get angry enough to answer them, rather than taking the easier option of snuffing out their burgeoning sparks of anger and creativity by our own middle aged complacency! Bon voyage – your lot are in good hands.

  4. Richard Bailey 26/09/2007 at 9:16 am #

    Thanks, all. I managed to spark some fellow practitioners and educators – but have not yet managed to fire up my new students.

  5. Katy Marshall 26/09/2007 at 5:13 pm #

    I’m sure most of the new first year students are still trying to get their head around the question ‘What is PR?’ and the fact their life won’t really be like Samantha Jones’s!
    Challenging theories and asking questions like these will come as their understanding grows and their knowledge of the industry is developed through hands on experience, as well as academic study!

  6. Derek Hodge 27/09/2007 at 12:32 pm #

    “Why can’t anyone explain how PR differs from marketing?”
    If this isn’t a rhetorical question then you’re in the wrong job.

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