It's only a small linguistic step, but it's a big conceptual leap to view the public relations role as community facilitator rather than communications manager.
Yet this is consistent with the consensus-building role of PR and is in step with relationship management principles.
I've said this before, but the idea of community was at the heart of most of last year's interesting books (just consider some titles: Here Comes Everybody, Groundswell, Crowdsourcing, Tribes, Crowd Surfing etc).
Expect to see more over the coming months being published on the risks, rewards and responsibilities of community building.
In the meantime, here are some things to do or to think about.
- Join PROpenMic – a 5000-strong social network for PR students, teachers and practitioners.
- Read Richard Millington's Feverbee blog and Seth's blog for the valuable (free) lessons
- Consider the limitations of the community (or relationships) model: sometimes we simply want a transaction from a commercial organisation, saving relationships for close friends and family
- Remember that the boundaries between public and private are shifting as Kevin Dugan's recent experience suggests