As it stands, the average person seems to think of public relations as either being a spin-doctor or being just like marketing. This attitude exists not only with consumers and non-practitioners, but CEOs and organizational leaders alike. To answer such confusion, many practitioners and non-practitioners adopt the Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) approach. In some cases, organizational leaders have marketing departments to leadership overshadow public relations, thus making it a function instead of having public relations stand on equal or higher standing in hierarchy.
Question: Has public relations lost its true value? If so, how do you believe you, as an intern or recent graduate, can reinforce its core values in and out of the boardroom so that the value of public relations is more than the sales it produces? If not, what examples do you see that show how public relations has maintained or enhanced its value among leadership and consumers?
Before I give you the stage, I would add some additional information.
First, when you compare public relations agencies to advertising agencies in the current economy, you’ll see that most public relations firms have not been hit nearly as hard by the recession as most ad agencies. To me, this says companies value the work public relations practitioners perform and see it as absolutely essential, though both disciplines are essential for successful businesses. When companies have to announce cutbacks, layoffs and even bankruptcy, do they turn to their advertising and marketing teams to advertise what happened? No — they rely on the public relations team to effectively communicate the truth and talk about the future.
On the other hand, how many chief public relations officers or chief communications officers are sitting next to the CEO in the boardroom? It’s not often you see these titles. In most companies, as Mark mentions, the IMC model dominates in the corporate setting, and the chief marketing officer heads all marketing, public relations and advertising for the company. All of these disciplines are essential, so when budgets get tight, especially in times like these, demonstrating ROI (return on investment) for public relations efforts are key.
So, what do you think? Has public relations lost its true value? How has it improved its value? Where will corporations take public relations next?