Earlier this year, one of many PR related reports the social landscape is rife with was published: Global Communications Report. What I found particularly interesting was the fact that those organisations surveyed found talent being The PR Industry’s Critical Challenge.
I would argue that the PR industry’s fundamental problem is not talent retention and recruitment but the employers’ unwillingness to shift their focus from short term deliverables to strategic ones. Talent, not just in PR but in any other industry, takes time to develop and innate or acquired skills need to be appropriately honed.
Surprising, to me at least, is this constant discussion about social media platforms – old and new – and how ‘digital skills’ need to be either this or that. ‘Digital’ is not a skill – the skill doesn’t lie in one’s ability to post content online, measure its impact and be able to report back on it. In my letter to 2016 BledComm, I have stated that:
“Learning about media relations, video production and social media engagement platforms – while very useful – can hardly be expected to represent the principle pillars of practitioner knowledge.”
PR seems to be very quickly leaning towards the wrong side of the learning spectrum. We are less and less talking about the competitive edge we can provide our Clients with; about the input we can have on their business development strategies and market positioning; about the USPs we have identified which could help them stand out from their competitors; about the necessity of understanding their customers/service users/suppliers/regulators.
Instead, we seem to be talking about Facebook and its new video feeds, about Snapchat and its advertising value corroborated with reaching out a demographic group of the society, about Instagram and brand recognition. Really? How about we spoke about these as mere channels of reaction and interaction that support the Client reaching their business objectives of A, B, C?
If we continue to focus on tactics and outputs as opposed to strategy and outcomes, PR not only will find it harder and harder to find a well-deserved seat for itself at the Boardroom table – it will also find it harder to argue the case of its practitioners’ understanding, knowledge of and direct input into the business’ growth and strategy.
After all, when we talk about listed companies and multinationals, why would any C-suite executive be ready to listen to our advice when all we seem to be knowledgeable of or interested in is ‘digital skills’? We often argue that perception is reality – I’m afraid that, in PR industry’s case, it is starting to look like it.
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