Many within our profession are generalists, dealing primarily with communications and various aspects of message creation and transmission. These public relations practitioners help convey information understandably, concisely, persuasively, and creatively.
Briefly, PR is an art form used to build understanding, good will and acceptance between parties. We prefer the term, “reputation management.” Incorporating Reputation Management with traditional and social media as well as marketing, advertising, and building rapport between sender and receiver never has been more important than now.
Others, such as we, specialize. Reputation management is an important part of our process. But we go considerably beyond traditional PR by devoting increased attention to behavioral science’s ever-widening and imposing features.
Think twice, maybe thrice, before plunging into the avoidable abyss of “New Normal.”
Catchy expression? Yes, to some. Socially cute? A little, except one must ask, “Why care?” Worthwhile English usage? Hell no!
How can anything be “the new normal” without adequate evaluation period? If truly new, it correctly suggests minimum existence. Minimum existence defies any reasonable period for evaluating whether or not something actually is ordinary or commonplace. How does one correctly measure and quantify without an adequate, comparative span of time?
Bottom line, new normal is another wasted expression such as beginning sentences with “Look,” or boringly first applying the word, “So,” when initiating response to a question?
Those two utterances apparently began and quickly took root in the halls of Congress. No more need be said!
PUBLIC RELATIONS NOW AS COMPARED TO THE PAST. PROGRESS VS. STATUS QUO?
Whether since the 21st century began, or a slow retreat to the early days of Edward L. Bernays, (the father of modern day public relations, 1891-1995), PR remains positioned as obscure and confusing despite opportunities for improved understanding.
- Generally, what a majority of people consider as public relations deviates from the intended mission of serious practitioners. Services in this field of endeavor stem from highly talented yet inadequately validated individuals. Where is licensing and rigorous requirements for gaining such standing?
- Various movements or lack thereof referencing PR unfortunately contribute steadily to misunderstanding, misapplying and misdirecting a pure comprehension of what should be understood as a valuable business service model.
- Public Relations, often identifies erroneously with sales, questionable lobbying, financial solicitations, publicity hawkers, and even wily characters. Hence, what is termed PR translates harmfully into “no more than an ill-defined process lacking clarity among the masses.” The very title should have been changed long ago.
- Assuming everyone engaged in “PR” as professionals clouds understanding. In truth, unknown numbers of non-professional, non-degreed, non-accredited people, are unqualified. Few show little interest in maintaining professional self-improvement.
The practice is long overdue for more strict control, similar to regulated vocations. Excellent accreditations and certifications are available nationally and from a few outstanding state organizations but regrettably, the present recognitions materialize only through volunteerism.
These represent very talented men and women whose standards lead them into attaining respectable ranking.
They do so through testing, continuing education and membership in associations or societies dedicated to excellence of performance, ethics, intellect, and judgement.
Consider as well:
- Public Relations as an understandable activity generally is vague. Even among many who practice the craft and among others purchasing PR support, confusion is contagious. No universal definition has been accepted despite efforts first inspired during the early 20th century.
- Anyone can claim the title of PR Counselor.
Two issues remain constant—stagnant. Appreciable changes improving public relations practices over a given period of time have ignored title and licensing for stellar professionalism.
License foes cite First Amendment impediments, truly a weak argument! We’re expected to exhibit superior persuasive capabilities. Or, might fear of failure regarding passing muster through licensing dictate?
Clearly the title must be abandoned for a clearer, more accurate understanding. Among several options, Reputation Management incorporates essentials of what the finest firms provide clients today.
Isn’t the heart of our assistance prevention of reputation damage, restoration of reputation, and then maintenance of a solidly public estimation in which person, organization or cause is held?
We must be trained to practice internally or externally as either counselors/advisors who earn their way into C-suites, or, as qualified assistants to top rated specialists, analysts and GPs. Getting to the heart of problems or issues and consulting wisely requires immense business competence. The very best today gather histories, run tests, research, interpret, diagnose and prescribe remedies for their organizations or clients. (Sound familiar?)
However, not all who call themselves PR experts, even practitioners, do what has been noted. We owe anyone hiring or retaining us responsibility plus accountability of the highest in career status. We say this whether associated with branding, crises, emergencies, daunting public controversies, and helping resolve other dilemmas.
Without question this is true when called for case assistance entailing violence – indeed terrorism – along with associated complications.
Specializations exist more than ever before, addressing specific, intricate business problems. Yes, communications as well as media relations remain priorities, yet change is rapid. Our standards, our efforts must stay ahead of the moment by being prepared for future vicissitudes.
A former professor termed PR simply, “doing good and getting credit for it.” He was on the right track from a rudimentary standpoint. In this century, the need for averting as well as fixing damages equals that of sustaining favorable opinions. Each requires excellence.
What about becoming senior advisors rather than secondary helpers? Situational satisfaction isn’t compelling in the era we’re experiencing. General George S. Patton’s admonition still chimes true: “Always do more than you’re required to do.” Take heed PR practitioners.
Ed Bernays insisted that we are “engineers of consent?” Engineers design, build, maintain, AND repair! Unfamiliar conditions confront such professionals suddenly, necessitating cumulative levels of competence and understanding.
Thus it is with medicine, law, accounting, dietetics, and other careers requiring accrediting and beyond. Objectors employed in PR neglect the golden ring.