One of the old saws about the PR industry is: PR does a poor job of PR for itself as a profession.
A new global consumer surveydoesn’t exactly get rid of that image. Commissioned by Adobe and conducted by research firm Edelman Berland, the survey found that Advertising, Public Relations and Marketing were among the professions held in lowest esteem by the general public worldwide. The three communications disciplines came in even lower than banking and politics, two of the most popular whipping boys in recent years. And PR came in the lowest among the Ad, PR and Marketing triumvirate.
Adobe CEO Anne Lewnes posited in Ad Age that most people still think of Advertising, Marketing and PR as “Old School” one-way communications rather than as the explosion in two-way conversations that technology now make possible. “People want messages and marketing that’s more customized to their needs,” she said. “As an industry, we need to accelerate the move to digital. Only then will we be able to get the respect and credibility we deserve.”
We can’t disagree with the “survey says.” We do know that PR firms and clients do a lot more targeting of messages than they appear to get credit for. Hence the disconnect.
For us at CommCore, we have been counseling our clients for years that the most effective messages are those targeted directly to audiences’ specific interest and need — “What’s in it for me?” As to today’s two-way online conversations, successful blog and social media communication demands a subtle brand message that engages rather than talks at end users. For a business or a brand, getting to engagement with the proper mix of brand mention and end user-focused conversation requires a flexible organizational culture, and careful communications planning and training.
And evidently PR needs to do a better job on behalf of itself in that regard.