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Where is PR?

16 Sep

More interesting than discussing ‘what is PR?’ is the question of ‘why do PR?’ Most interesting of all is the question of where PR sits in the organisation – the theme of the upcoming EUPRERA congress, awkwardly titled ‘institutionalizing (sic) public relations and corporate communication’.

Dr Tom Watson has just presented at a management forum in South Africa and has this to say about the locus of public relations education:

If PR is to gain continuing recognition as a management function, programmes need to either be situated in business schools (separate from marketing programmes) or have a strong managerial focus if placed elsewhere.

Mad map I

30 Jan

Corp_comms I was introducing corporate communications yesterday by looking at stakeholders and by looking at PR functions. A conceptualised map came into my head and I scribbled it on the whiteboard (see image, please enlarge for detail).

It’s simplified of course, but not I hope too simplistic. One student asked for a reference to the source so I had to admit it was no more academic and authorised than me jotting on a whiteboard. So here it is: published of sorts, and peer reviewed of sorts (by you).

One phrase equity

4 Sep

More praise for Tesco. CorpComms magazine reports on the retailer’s community relations initiatives, and Naresh Ramchandani in Media Guardian explores the meaning (free registration) of the firm’s slogan ‘Every little helps’ (‘perhaps the most ingeniously modest slogan ever written’).

What to do about email

24 May

David Tebbutt has written an excellent article for Information World Review: Ready for the rebirth of email? (I’m late on this, but then I’ve been on leave and deluged by emails…)

He’s so right. Email is too valuable a communications tool for it to be strangled by spam and thoughless overuse. I endorse his advice to outlaw group copying or ‘reply to all’.

Here’s a question. What proportion of your organisation’s emails are internal, and what proportion external? Freelancers have a perfect business model in that 100% of messages must be external. But for most middle managers in large organisations, internal messages represent, I suspect, the vast majority. It’s similar within a university, though if I define students as external on the grounds that they are equivalent to customers, I find to my pleasant surprise that 87% of my inbox is from external correspondents. Perhaps I’m simply quicker to delete my colleagues’ messages. What’s in your inbox?

Suddenly I see

14 Mar

I’ve been puzzling for months why BP (formerly British Petroleum) should be spending millions on newspaper and magazine ads to proclaim its environmental credentials (think Beyond Petroleum).

Is it an example of the company pursuing long-term competitive advantage at the expense of short-term gain (affordable enough in this industry)? If so, it must rank alongside the Philip Morris admission that ‘there’s no such thing as a safe cigarette’ as a textbook example of corporate long-termism. (It must also be a rare example of advertising deployed as a public relations tactic.)

But here’s another possible explanation for BP’s advertising. In the context of oil and gas price hikes, fuel shortages and record oil company profits, is the campaign aimed at insulating BP from consumer (and political) criticism?

Web-centric communications

26 May

Jim Horton has written a white paper (in pdf format) arguing for a web-centred approach to communications. His theme: ‘The web is the only unified distribution point for all corporate messages’. There’s a useful distinction between product-centric sites that are the domain of marketers (with corporate communications taking a back seat); and company-centric sites which are the domain of corporate communications.

I don’t think it’s a weakness that blogging isn’t mentioned; but I do think that content management should be addressed as this is more of a bottleneck in practice than design, programming or copywriting. (Consider how quickly we’ve forgotten the content management headaches of maintaining even small personal websites now that the problem’s been solved by our weblogging programs. Now imagine the content management challenge for a large corporate site that is the unified distribution point for all corporate messages.)

Stand up, speak up…

4 Apr

Jim Horton’s latest white paper on CEO speeches is full of sensible advice and historical context. He’s right that Winston Churchill used to write his own speeches (because they were too important to be left to an adviser). But I’m surprised that he didn’t mention that Abraham Lincoln felt his Gettysburg Address to be a flop. History judges otherwise (and Horton would approve of its brevity).

Issue of the year

20 Dec

In a word, trust. It’s the talking point in politics; it’s the biggest issue in IT, mired in spam, phishing, viruses and spyware; and it remains the challenge for PR practitioners.

Who do you trust? What must we do to gain your trust; what must we avoid doing if we’re not to lose it?

It’s 20 years since academics Grunig and Hunt proposed ‘two-way symmetrical’ (ie a dialogue of equals) as the best way to practice public relations. Yet examples of just this remain hard to find: I’ll be looking out for instances in 2005 and reflecting on the role of weblogs in establishing genuine conversations in response to Elizabeth Albrycht’s public challenge.

Give and let live

10 Nov

Here at two useful links for those studying corporate social responsibility:

The Giving List 2004 from The Guardian. And an article on non-financial reporting from The Economist.

Corporate identity

19 Oct

Call it corporate identity, brand identity, or graphical standards. A German site, Corporate Identity Portal, links to a wealth of examples of identity in action. (Via PR meets the WWW).