Thursday, January 19, 2006

PR practices

It is evident that in just the realm of communication, there is already and extensive practice of Public Relations as complex as a Sharman's dream (left) and covering a very broad range of activities.

In studying the existing practice we may expose areas where the Public Relations institutions may look to both encompass and encourage development grounded in educated and ethical practice. In addition there may be grander heights available where only a few have dared to tread.

Where the CIPR dares to tread, there is a wide diversity of practice.

A view of the range of practices was provided in the UK from analysis of the membership of the CIPR for the joint CIPR/Department of Trade and Industry report “Unlocking the Potential of Public Relations: Developing Good Practice”i identified the work of practitioners from a surveys of the membership.

The findings, based on the research commissioned for the report declared that the areas of activity that practitioners consider to be their domain offer:

  • Positive image in media

  • Managing issues and crises

  • Promoting mission & values externally

  • Positive investors’ view

  • Supporting products/ services

  • Supporting community & social activities

  • Building & maintaining corporate brand

  • Staff feel valued & Involved

  • Managing government relations

  • Promoting mission & values internally

  • Building & maintaining product/services brands

  • Building & maintaining a positive image amongst suppliers

  • Compiling information on social responsibility & environment

Source: CIPR web site

Other important purposes of PR specified by respondents:

  • PR was seen to be an important contributor to building and maintaining internal relationships and partnerships.

  • PR was also seen to have an important management role, including developing business strategy, supporting business decision-making and advising senior management.

  • PR was seen as an important driver of change, communicating change, influencing and changing behaviour, changing culture and assisting adoption of best practices.

  • In addition, PR was perceived to have an important role in supporting externally facing business processes such as staff recruitment.

  • PR consultants gave a diverse range of responses when asked whether the PR industry should have other important purposes.

  • As would be expected, these emphasised fulfilling the client’s brief and advising management.

Following this research, the CIPR engaged The Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) who undertook a survey of 692 members in mid summer 2005 findings are of two kinds. The first is 'Roles of Public Relations workers'.

This identifies 21 roles:

  • Head of PR

  • PR officer

  • Account executive

  • Account manager

  • Media relations

  • Writing articles, newsletters etc

  • Communications strategy development

  • PR programme planning

  • Internal communications

  • Event organisation

  • Publishing / editing

  • Information provision

  • Research and evaluation

  • Corporate social responsibility

  • Consumer or public campaigning

  • Public affairs consultancy (lobbying)

  • Media analysis

  • Graphic design / animation

  • Sales promotion

  • In-house Consultancy / agency

  • Roles of public relations workers

In addition, the report identified the 18 functions of the Public Relations Workers as:

  • Head of PR

  • PR officer

  • Media relations

  • Communications strategy development

  • Strategic planning

  • Event planning

  • Reputation management

  • Internal communications

  • Issue management

  • Crisis management

  • Corporate PR

  • Information provision

  • Branding and marketing

  • On-line PR

  • Public affairs and lobbying

  • Corporate social responsibility

  • Consumer or public campaigning

  • Investor relations or financial PR

Research by CIPR seems to extent the range of activities said to be 'Public Relations' each time a new survey is done.

Exploring what PR really is and where there could be investment in supporting practitioners, educationalists and promoting the industry needs more attention. The numbers involved are too big for the practice to ignore its diversity any more.

i Unlocking the Potential of Public Relations: Developing Good Practice” 2004 CIPR December 2005.

Picture: The Shaman's Dream - Huichol Yarn Painting