Markets versus stakeholders

20 Aug

I've been hearing lots of hints lately to suggest that PR people in the public sector feel at some disadvantage compared with their colleagues working in the private sector. (The suggestions make it sound like like it's an envy of larger budgets and also an inability to innovate and take risks).

I'm still puzzling over this perception, but here's one possible explanation.

Successful private sector business tend to adopt a market-orientation. The more customer-focused, the argument goes, the more successul will the enterprise be for all stakeholders (shareholders, employees etc). This market-orientation gives a clear focus to efforts, and leads to some simple and definitive measures of success (like sales).

Compare this with the more confused stakeholder orientation in a public body, trying to balance many different interests without any simple outcome measures.

But I can see an immediate flaw in this argument, because public relations within a market-orientated business is a less rounded and less strategic activity (ie marketing communications) than public relations within a stakeholder-orientation (where it's usually known as corporate communications).

Add to this the effects of the recession, which have to date mostly been felt in the private sector, and I remain confused as to root of this apparent insecurity.

4 Responses to “Markets versus stakeholders”

  1. Bruno Amaral 20/08/2009 at 11:30 pm #

    Values 🙂
    While on one hand we are dealing with a values system aimed at generating value (thus sales being a performance indicator) on the other we are dealing with a values system linked to the need to establish or maintain relationships with publics who allow for that value to be created.
    For the second kind of values system we can monitor symbolic values to ascertain our outcomes. This will also mean there is a need to identify which relationships are stronger and weaker in hopes of predicting if the organization can withstand an economic recession or even avoid it.
    Working on proving all this as I type… 🙂

  2. Richard Bailey 21/08/2009 at 9:33 am #

    I’m looking forward to seeing your thesis, Bruno. Or is this David Phillips in disguise?

  3. David Phillips 21/08/2009 at 10:26 am #

    Lol, Bruno needs no help from me. A lot of people are looking forward to seeing the thesis and the one that, I hope will follow it. Bruno is breaking new ground as we all saw at Bledcom.

  4. Bruno Amaral 24/08/2009 at 10:30 pm #

    Well I must admit to one thing, I am “borrowing” the concept of tokens and values and the perspective of PR as relationship management. 🙂

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