Thursday, 7 March 2013

PR's future: Sing along with Tammy Wynette

Ten days ago, I posted on the PR Moment blog calling for a divorce between publicity/PR and strategic communication #. This blog reviews 10 responses which came from the UK, USA, Canada and Sweden and a separate poll of PR Moment readers.
Also, that well-known Northumbrian blogger Stephen Waddington penned a response on the PR Moment blog with the catchy title of “Elementary my dear Watson”. I was honoured!

What surprised me was the consensus for the admittedly difficult to achieve “PR divorce” proposal. Several respondents were in some form of complete agreement. I needed an extra glass of wine to cope with the shock.

Nick Grant referred to the PR=Publicity problem as the ’elephant in the room’, while Craig Fleisher and Fraser Likely commented that there is a trend to a separate strategic communication practice and body of knowledge already.

Even the 26% level of support for the split, shown in the PR Moment poll, was a plus. PR research over many years has found that more than 80% of practitioner effort goes on media relations and publicity. So 74% rejection is a positive trend, and was predicted by Canadian commentator Fraser Likely.

It will be a Long March for change, so what next?

- Unhook strategic communication from Marcoms at all levels. As suggested before, encourage publicity and Marcoms practitioners to form their own associations or link to CIM (marketing professional bodies). As Jesper Falkheimer noted, this is already happening in Scandinavia.

- Bring together online resources about best practice and theory in strategic communication and make them accessible to managers. There are already academic journals and leading texts in the field, as well as conferences.

- In the interim, demand that PR bodies give more recognition to strategic communication in their awards; the standard of many awards is woefully poor because if their focus on junk data and public (a point made by Fraser Likely)

- Starting with the Global Alliance, get it to drop ’public relations’ from its title and focus more on the 'communication management'. This would encourage PR bodies to reorganise and retitle towards strategic communication. For instance, the Institute of Public Relations (IPR) could become the Institute for Strategic Communication, as that is the overwhelming theme of its work.

So let's sing along with Tammy Wynette for “D-I-V-O-R-C-E” for strategic communication from Marcoms/Publicity. (But not in our private lives).   #