Hello, all. It has been approximately 105 days since my last blog post (but who’s counting, right?), so for that, I apologize (mainly to myself.)
The last time I posted I was just finishing my internship at Wildwood PR. I learnt a hell of a lot there and in hindsight even more than I thought I had when I first left. (I would recommend taking a year out of University to spend a year in the workplace to everyone, experience is absolutely vital and I cannot urge everyone enough. If you’re in the process of trying to find a placement at the moment my read my blog with tips to do just that.)
So what have I been up to since? I then went on to spend my summer interning in London at 1883 Magazine as Marketing and Events Executive and Fashion and Marketing Assistant at Love is Boutique. And now I am back at University to finish up my final year! What a whirlwind it has been. But it has also been extremely exciting, and is beginning to get even more so, with our return to University as professional, experienced individuals (placement truly does impact in such a big way) it is clear to see that the time for Public Relations is now.
The time is now: Why PR is so essential today
On this thought, I was lucky enough to attend a guest lecture from Professor Anne Gregory, who, with an entire wealth of qualifications, experience, titles and books to her name, came to share her wisdom about how she views PR today. She believes that organisations need PR leaders now more than ever, and that having the skills of leadership in PR will be our most valuable assets yet.
So, why now has this become so vital? A recent survey by the CIPR found that the biggest area of growth in the next five years will be online reputation, followed by strategic planning. Hardly surprising right? Social media has transformed the relationship that organisations have with their publics and expectations of transparency and honesty are more expected. Not only this, but of course it allows for more negativity and PR’s are needed to defend the reputation of an organisation. Organisations now fear a young spotty teenager sitting behind his or her computer some 2,000 miles away. There is less control over it as the internet has allowed this kind of negative (and positive communication 24/7, 365 days a year. So how do you handle it? Most CEO’s don’t have a ton of experience in handling social media, and all the new platforms and gizmos and techniques kind of scare them. PR people host the perfect skills to provide buffer elements to defend organisations and manage social media communications effectively.
Social media has also contributed massively to an increase in consumer choice. Consumers now have a louder and stronger voice to choose what they want and when they want it, and they’re not afraid to shout it loud. In this economy, those with the best reputation are going to be ones that succeed. Employing a strong PR division or individual is going to ensure that your product, message or service is going to be heard above all the others constantly bombarding the market today.
In the same CIPR survey, the top three areas of decline over the next five years were sponsorship, event management and branding and marketing. Also, not very surprising. Professor Anne Gregory put it quite bluntly – Marketing is dead. Do I agree? I’m not entirely sure. I agree that marketing is being pushed out and that traditional forms of marketing (flyers, leaflets, posters, store sale promotion) is definitely not as effective. However, I feel that Marketing may have an opportunity to threaten our profession through social media and technology. Marketeers have always been more rigorous in developing and evaluating an online profile, but do they have the communication and reputation management skills with PR’s have to manage social media effectively?
So what skills and elements of PR can we bring to fulfill the needs and expectations of CEO’s today?
PR enables the company to do things. I particularly like the idea that PR IS the company, it is the guardian of values within the organisation, and through evaluating the organisations values, ideas and objectives it can achieve them through decision making, people and communication.
- Communication is a mechanism by which relationships are secured: Our fantastic communication and relationship building and management skills are vital to any organisation.
- PR shapes organisational values and give them life to which people can attach: By taking an organisations values and weaving them into the messages and strategic planning that an organisation sends out, people will relate and this will create loyalty. Values shape culture and interaction and are at the heart of authenticity, risk and integrity.
- Defining and instilling values: As PR people we should hold an organisations values, people, messages, culture, objectives, communications in our hands and use these from within to create messages and defend the reputation of an organisation.
PR is a new management understanding, and organisations are becoming more and more defined by its communications. It is time to grasp this opportunity, and show CEO’s exactly why we are so important. On a final note, I think this video really sums up a PR professionals role today: