We need more than PR

PR in and of itself will never ever be enough for us, its practitioners, to shine and be recognised for the value that we bring.

Why? Because to properly promote, build, and protect an image, a reputation, a product, an initiative, or a process we need to understand not just all of these but, most of all, how they fit in the wider environment.

For instance, how do you promote a digital company and its services? By having great promos, paying influencers/media to talk about it and “job done”?

How about its competition? How about its end users’ behavioural patterns? How about the regulatory environment it operates in? How about establishing its unique position on the market? How about, even more so, about understanding what that product/service does, whether it is fit for purpose, whether it can deliver on the brand promise attached to it and so much more?

Today, in 2021, in the complex space we operate locally, nationally, and internationally, the old “it’s not my job to know/do this” does not cut it. How can it?

See when many of us complain, publicly and privately, in various industry reports or surveys or articles that we do not have/gain/attain sufficient recognition at board level bla bla, no one – absolutely no one – will ever give us a seat at that top table of any organisation unless we understand (fully and completely):

  • What that organisation does;
  • How it does it;
  • Why it does it;
  • What it needs to do it;
  • Who uses what it does/makes;
  • Who benefits from it;
  • What issues/risks it is faced with, from where and why;
  • What else it could do to further enhance and protect its market share/position;
  • What it needs to do to expand its market;
  • Its legal boundaries (of the land and of its sector);
  • How sustainable (as in business continuity) its operations and staff retention/training are;
  • Its technical, financial, political, environmental, and operational challenges.

As for creating various campaigns, promos, social media this and that, news releases and so on, those are basic – those are our bread and butter, and we should all be able (or be ready to learn) them.

To make it even clearer, a doctor studies general medicine for 4-5 years – all doctors study the same “medicine”. To practice and qualify as a consultant/specialist in a certain area of practice, that doctor needs to know much more (and study) than just those initial 4-5 years.

The same should be in our case: we all study the PR of this or the Comms of that – and then what? How is that basic specialist PR knowledge going to be enough to advise (and expect our advice to be heeded) by public or multi-million pound/dollars business?

What do we offer? Tweets, likes, and shares as our “business impact”? Or do we seek to offer advice and guidance based on proper research and analysis, multiple considerations of various parameters in play in a constantly changing environment, and a proper risk/reward overview of “if we do this, then that will happen”?

PR and Comms (of any kind) will never ever be enough. We start with those; we do not finish with them.

Founding Chartered PR Practitioner, CIPR Board member (2018), former UK Government Communication Services and Institute of Directors mentor, published author and university lecturer, Ella has almost 20 years of high level government and international organisations experience in corporate reputation, leadership and crisis management, across business disciplines and governments, including investment markets, lender organisations, national and international media, NGOs and affected communities. She is a 2014 Service Award Winner of the Society of Petroleum Engineers, Assessor of CIPR's Chartered Scheme, an elected member of the CIPR Council (2017-2018), Founder of CIPR’s Energy Leadership Platform, former Chair of CIPR’s Foresight Panel and a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management. She handled some of the most prominent international crisis of recent times, she developed the Leadership Development Programme for SPE’s MENA young engineers and she has also been an adviser to several governments on their national branding strategies. Her list of clients includes McKinsey & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Total, BP, Shell, Centrica, KazTransOil, Averda, The World Bank, Private Investment Development Group, the European Commission, the European Bank For Reconstruction and Development and many others. She is also Robert Gordon University's Lead Trainer for the Crisis Communication Diploma (CIPR Specialist Diploma).

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