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PR Pros’ Prose Provides Perspicacity

June 16, 2011

“Public Relations 2011 Issues Insights Ideas” is a great (and free) publication that offers advice from PR professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds and specialities. The brainchild of Craig Pearce, an award winning strategic public relations professional, it brings together opinion pieces from some of the most recognised names in the business.

The articles are intended to broaden your knowledge of strategic and tactical approaches to the practice of public relations. Indeed there are many thought-provoking nuggets of knowledge to be found inside it’s pages.

To give you a bit of an overview:

Professor Jim Macnamara argues that the emphasis for PR education should be on more theoretical elements, rather than on practical experience. He points out that “doing the right thing is more important than doing the thing right”.

Paul Roberts brings PR back to basics, suggesting it is driven by strategy – essentially comprised of the who, what, when, where, why, how of communication and engagement. Simple right? Maybe, but the implementation of this basic tenet is crucial to success.

Paul Seaman casts a critical eye over the virtues of transparency, CSR and better corporate governance. He examines the crisis of trust in Western firms, governments and other institutions and ponders the difference between healthy scepticism with lack of trust. He suggests that throwing away trust in the name of transparency is retrograde and corrosive.

Craig Pearce has 4 articles in this document. First up he tackles the interconnection between PR and CSR. CSR is related to more than what an organisation actually ‘does’, the notion of articulating this is the domain of external PR and the combination of the two is a valid way of getting change to occur.

He follows this up later with a piece on the importance of the PR professional in the corporate structure and how social media is emphasising this. Pearce argues “it is such as important opportunity that we’d be completely remiss not to go for the jugular… because effective application of social media can help achieve two-way symmetrical communication. A major benefit of this approach is that it helps organisations operate in a manner more likely to contribute to society interests, rather than organisational interests alone.”

His third contribution emphasises the importance of “the public relations professional is the conscience of an organisation.” However he warns, “Without exhibiting leadership, you will never be the best possible public relations professional you can be.”

Finally he examines James E. Grunig’s models for public relations, concluding: “Applying the two-way symmetrical communication model is the best way to build and sustain long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships between an organisation and its stakeholders, make a meaningful contribution to society and, most importantly, prompt society to become more satisfying and more equitable to greater numbers of people.”

Mandi Bateson gives some tips on social media engagement, pointing out that the “audience doesn’t care that your organisation has very separate PR, marketing, sales and customer services departments” and “As guardians of the brand or product messaging, PR professionals are well placed to own the social media strategy”.

Judy Gombita examines the results of the Edleman Trust Barometer and suggests “21st century PR regime really needs to be looking to the internet as a legitimate outlet for ‘earned media’”. She looks at how PRs can leverage other findings to fine-tune strategies such as who to use as the spokesperson and how to ‘don the (internal) journalist cap’ to better service their communications efforts.

In another article, she compares personal interaction at networking events with social networking in the digital world. Gombita suggests “Optimum public relations and social media (a.k.a. digital PR) revolve around humanising an organisation… in as comfortable and intuitive a way as possible.”

Trevor Young goes into bat for consultancies, suggesting that (despite the growth of in-house communications departments, in both size and importance) external agencies are a vast resource of knowledge that shouldn’t be ignored – especially when it comes to social media.

Dwight Whitney questions whether Facebook (and other social platforms) should actually be called “anti social media” on a number of levels from cyber-bullying to the fact intimacy and emotions are being replaced with a mega mall concept of friendship where ‘more is better’.

Dr. Tony Jaques provides some interesting case studies about how social media is having a dramatic effect in the field of issue management. He argues that “social media have changed the community’s expectation of what is acceptable corporate behaviour, as well as increasing the community’s capacity to communicate those expectations”.

Jane Jordan-Meier explores the pros and cons of wheeling out the CEO as the public face of the company. In a crisis situation “their physical presence sends two powerful messages: “I care and I am accountable” however never forget “as a basic rule, go for the person that is most credible, most believable, most authentic and has the genuine interest of the affected community/consumers/constituents at heart.”

Dr Catherine Sweet’s article talks about how her academic experiences have impressed upon her the  “the power of ‘story telling’ as being the best form of PR and communication there is.” She notes that while online engagement is necessary, “Face-to-face story telling is more persuasive because more emotional connection is possible” and “Eye contact matters –it’s that trust thing and it creates a connection that online just can’t replicate.

For the full document, simply subscribe to Craig Pearce’s blog

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