Over the last years, the narrative on Public Relations measurement and value “proving” has been gaining momentum, and aligning the communication objectives to the business/organisational goals is a must. This is how it should be, but are we telling the outside world about it?
How about trying to leave our echo chambers, getting on the “stage” and telling businesses and other not for profit organisations whose objectives we have supported and, at times, made happen, why we are a strategic management function?
I spoke at energy conferences (and even set one up from concept to actual event), I created a Leadership Development initiative for the young engineers in Middle East and Africa (and bear in mind I’m not an engineer), and I gave various business lectures on leadership.
If I could and can do it, so can any one of us. It just takes that courage to go out there and speak and, when someone asks you what’s your background once you come off the stage, you can look them in the eye, smile and say: “Public Relations”. They would find it hard to believe, especially if your presentation has been compelling, well argued and right on point and, most of all, if you spoke “business”.
Our PR events and conferences are very much needed – we learn from each other, we share best practice and brainstorm, we try new tools and techniques and we network. But these events are our comfort zones, they are “home” for us.
If we want PR (those of us who do, of course, since not everyone shares the same opinion) to be recognised by businesses – large and small, national and international – as a strategic management function, we should prove to them why we matter and what we can bring to the table.
Naturally, we can do that internally if we have sufficient seniority or access to the Executive Team (and I’m not referring to the CMO here or the Marketing Director) or we can do it externally by taking ourselves out of our comfort zones and speaking at events that have absolutely nothing to do with PR or Communication.
For instance (and, please, bear with me here), those of us who work for:
1. Higher Education establishments (universities etc.), can easily write an academic paper on the influence of X on the future of Y and present it, by using their honed PR skills and techniques, during an academic forum
2. Local Government, can address their local (or even national) Chamber of Commerce members on the importance of a mutual dialogue between businesses and local government (just an idea)
3. Charities, can get involved in numerous debates on the importance of governance, safeguards, impacts and livelihoods etc.
I’m sure you understand what I mean. Collectively, we can do a lot – individually, we can do even more. Perceptions do not change overnight but, if the opportunity presents itself, just go out there, own the stage and, once you come off it, take immense pride in what you do for a living.
Do you know why? Because PR people should be able to speak about anything related to their sector, and how all the dots are joined together – business people seldom can talk about PR and, often, they struggle to join the dots; many of us do it for them.