For more than a decade (until 2007), I was responsible for internal communication strategy at an 1,800-employee government social service agency.
Employees really appreciate a chance to be heard. Executives like the opportunity to harvest helpful ideas from the frontline, dispel rumors, and explain actions. They can manage expectations and possibly share updates on initiatives (perhaps forgotten) in place to address concerns of staff.
The recent post asking “Does public relations need a PR campaign?” has generated some thought-provoking discussion in a couple of LinkedIn Groups. Here are direct links:
After contemplating the thoughtful comments, I’ve come to the conclusion that each of us in public relations bears the responsibility of educating others about our profession.
It took me back a decade or so to a time when I made it a priority to help the executive team at my employer better understand the role of professional PR people. I felt that they were under-utilizing my capability.
I used some of our training funds to buy each of the executives a copy of Effective Public Relations, Eighth Edition, by Cutlip, Center and Broom. I put Post-It notes on some of the pertinent parts of the text — the basis for the Public Relations Society of America’s accreditation exam.
Also, I sprinkled quotes from the text as well as other professional publications in reports about strategic communication programs I was leading. I printed out the quotes and posted them in my workspace. I shared these basics when consulting with my clients — some of whom wanted me to “do a flier” or “write an article” without considering target audience or message.
I made a point of doing all of my work in the context of a strategic plan — something that continues today. I set measurable objectives and reported results at regular intervals — also a constant.
Here are a few quotes I found helpful:
“Public relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between and organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends.” — Cutlip, Center and Broom
“…public relations conducts a planned and sustained program as part of an organization’s management.” — Cutlip, Center and Broom
“…marketing focuses on exchange relationships with customers … transactions that meet customer demands and achieve organizational economic objectives. In contrast, public relations covers a broad range of relationships and goals with many publics — employees, investors, neighbors, special-interest groups, governments, and many more. Effective public relations contributes to the marketing effort by maintaining a hospitable social and political environment.” — Cutlip, Center and Broom
“Elements of Public Relations include: Counseling, Research, Media Relations, Publicity, Employee/Member Relations, Community Relations, Public Affairs, Issues Management, Financial Relations/Investor, or Shareholder Relations, Government Affairs, Industry Relations, Development/Fund Raising, Special Events, Marketing Communications.” –PRSA
In digging up these quotes, I found a couple others:
From Abraham Lincoln, 1859: “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.”
From Alfred Nobel, 1889: “A good reputation is more important than a clean shirt. You can wash your shirt but not your reputation.”
Yes. I do think public relations needs a PR campaign. And I think I need to do my part by continuing to perform strategic PR and educate those who may not understand how it works and why it’s so important.