Saturday, January 14, 2006

A question of confidence

All the communications professions are going through a sea change.

Marketing, advertising, public relations have now come to a position where they have to build long term relationships, some call it conversations, with stakeholders. All of us have realised that we have to understand the cultural needs and aspirations of our publics. We all know that, to have a competitive impact, we need to use a wide range of communications channels. The biggest brands once had power to dominate the media and now compete with the 'citizen journalist, communicator and marketer'. And now it's quite quite clear that there is serious competition for attention from people in society at large who can, because they know of, are members of and communicate within cultures, have levelled the cultural and communications playing field.

This means that all the people involved have to examine what and how they can remain in the market place to purvey their brand of creating consumer interactions. To achieve this there is a need to engage with people across a wider of their interests.

Pick any area of commerce. A surf board manufacturer has to be aware of the environmental impact of making foam boards, the effect of surfers on the ecology of our beaches, the fashions of their customers and so many more aspects of life where they operate.

Pick any area of politics. A politician that cannot opinion about life on an international scale will find that common but transnational issues affect her standing locally, in the political hot-house and among influencers.

And so on.

This is not just a matter of making Corporate Social Responsibility policies clear on a web site, it involved interaction with communities across the piece.

This is not a matter of presenting products it is a matter of exposing products and being ever more transparent about provenance, use and application.

This is not about messages, it is about context.

This is not about where but in which context 'where' is.

The Public Relations Industry has the background but lacks the self confidence to rise to the challenge.

Fearful of the historic big budget clout of Advertising and marketing and a lack of skills in these two sectors, they are fearful of treading on toes. Nice people.

Advertising and marketing sectors have a bigger problem. The whole idea of being of a culture instead of trying to make a culture is out with their historic mandate.

The idea that organisation may want a 'Chief Conversation Officer' or a 'Chief Reputation Officer' is, of course, a nonsense. Such people would have to respond to the people in the coalition empowered to identify the extent to which relationships between employees and business partners and external constituents are significant.

The reason is this. To have a reputation, you must first have a relationship. To have a conversation you must first have a relationship.

The part of Public Relations practice that is about Relationship Management is the senior practice in resolving the issues facing PR, Advertising and Marketing.

Picture: Confidence vs. Arrogance Amanda Kuehl