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The Culture of Public Relations – An Introduction

The culture of public relations is not only based on a gratifying and inspirational aesthetic but it also, and get this, contributes in a positive way to society and provides a working milieu that is inspiring to be part of.

There are a wide range of reasons for this, but here are my ‘top ten’. Hopefully, you’ll think my passion for the professional discipline of public relations is justified after you read this. You might even get the urge to add your own reasons for being a fan of the profession.

Helping society

One of the most important strategic elements of public relations is identifying organisational stakeholder needs and wants. The PR pro then informs the organisation of stakeholder positions and helps the organisation evolve the way it operates so it is more closely aligned with stakeholders.

When this paradigm is applied, it means that organisations become more embedded into society in a socialised sense, making people, in theory, more satisfied and happy.

In essence, the public relations professional is the conscience of an organisation.

Creativity = fun

Being creative is huge amounts of fun. There are many examples of how PR is a discipline which both survives on, and is driven by, creativity:

o Insane stunts like hundreds of people doing yoga on a beach or stripping off their jeans when identified as a ‘stooge’ in the streets and handing said jeans over

o Creating strategic alliances with other organisations to help increase organisational/product/service awareness

o Generating innovative topics for use in media, speaking and social media ‘outreach’ programs (e.g. the Telstra Productivity Indicator and Citrix Online’s Shrinking Holiday Syndrome).

Innovation and education

Public relations, just like business and society which it serves, is changing all the time.

New ideas are needed to help create POD and thought leadership for organisations. Additionally, society and business is not getting any simpler, so the intellect of public relations as a putative whole needs to continually keep one step ahead to deliver results.

Inherent within this is the need to continually learn and improve. Education is at the heart of this. Without it, you may not be dead in the water from a career perspective but, believe me, you ain’t going anywhere fast.

Playing in the sandbox

There are a plethora of tactics in the PR sandbox (sorry, I meant toolbox) you can play with. Some of them are:

o Media

o Sponsorship

o Events

o Publications

o Social media/online

o Speaking program

o Issues and crisis management

o Government relations/lobbying.

This diversity of vocational activity helps make life interesting.

Remuneration

It seems to me that public relations is one of the better earners in western society. This isn’t the actual ‘bottom line’ from my perspective. The bottom line is a complex, multi-layered thing. But, hey, it doesn’t hurt!

Leadership

Inherent within strategic public relations is challenging the status quo. That might be a status quo as characterised by an organisation or its stakeholders.

We are seeking change.

Change requires those who are instigating it and representing it to stand up in a considerably large way. That takes fortitude, it takes vision and it takes leadership.

Nice people!

PR is a people profession. We are under the ‘people spotlight’ all the time. It is expected of us to be emotionally functional (as opposed to dysfunctional) human beings. Add to this equation that the most effective and persuasive form of communication is face-to-face (i.e. people interacting in real life as opposed to virtual life).

Nasty people don’t do face-to-face well. Upshot: exit PR.

Public relations, is, at the end of the day, a civilised profession in which to work. And one of its roles is, inherently, to enhance the civility of all those it counsels and works with.

Power of the people

PR pros get to interact with a wider range of people than many other professions do. This is because we:

o utilise a range of service providers and interact with different sorts of PR and marketing pros who specialise in different tactical areas, such as events and writing and advertising

o interact with those in all areas of an organisation: from the C-suite to the mechanics and nightclub security; from engineers to accountants.

Collaboration and teams

This works two ways:

o On a strategic level, public relations encourages various parties (e.g. an organisation and its stakeholders) to collaborate to invent/devise/formulate a win-win outcome for these parties

o On a more day-to-day level, we are all operating in some sort of team environment where we collaborate with colleagues, associates or clients.

Social media

Okay, now this is a little different as I am picking on a specific public relations tactic. The reason for this is that, more than any other single tactic, I think social media has the potential to help achieve the holy grail of two-way symmetrical communication.

And two-way symmetrical communication is the primary cause of my passion for public relations. I am well aware that I cannot achieve it in every communication program I design and/or which I am involved, but it provides a deeply satisfying model for me to apply and/or aspire to applying: professionally, personally, socially – a tripartite hybrid which suffuses and characterises my personality, in fact.

It is helping create a new society, or at the very least the paradigm for a new society. One where my dreams of greater social equity, greater organisational transparency and sincerity…and greater fulfilment for all of us will occur.


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