I am a public relations professional by trade. I’m proud of that. While I consider myself a writer first and went to school to learn how to become a journalist, it is public relations that I consider my craft.

While there are those who will differ, I believe social media to be the new public relations. It’s PR for the 21st century and those who will excel in it, in my opinion, are public relations professionals who aren’t tech-tarded. You know, guys and gals like me.

Arthur Page SocietyAs a PR guy, I found the recent Arthur W. Page Society report, “The Authentic Enterprise: Relationships, Values and The Evolution of Corporate Communication,” which is called, “A Manifesto for the New PR” by Paul Gillin, an interesting moment in the industry. Not just the public relations one, but social media as well.

The document calls for a new approach to corporate communications, putting the chief communications officer at the board table and, interestingly, having “leadership in enabling the enterprise with ‘new media’ skills and tools.” It says transparency is imperative in today’s business culture as information barriers are dissolving and networks of individuals are becoming the mechanism by which we communicate messages. The document asserts that corporations no longer have control of their “traditional spheres of professional activity,” which is to say, the no longer control the message. In some cases, they don’t control their own brands.

Please download the document and read it. There are some great assertions in there, particularly if you are a public relations or social media professional at an organization where communications is thought of as, “the folks who do our brochure.”

While the CEO big wigs that make up the society are influential and the message they are sending is important, my question is how many in the C-Level stratosphere will heed the advice? Will the very people who wrote the document do so?

Certainly the sudden surge in social media interest from corporations world wide is a complimentary indication the communications professionals in organizations everywhere are perhaps evolving into a position of higher influence and impact. But I can’t count how many times in the last 10 years I’ve heard how important PR is from the C-Suite. Maybe the lip service you get from PRSA materials and PR conventions really is the result of public relations pros just sitting around talking to themselves.

I only hope this isn’t just another round in that no-win fight or if communications professionals everywhere are finally off the undercard.

Is the chief communications officer in your organization in the board room? On the executive committee? Continually in the loop and counseled for advice on organizational decisions? Does your public relations department have an impact on the internal and external messaging of your organization? Are your social media experts getting more attention from the higher ups lately? If not, what can you do to change it?

Other Posts You’ll Find Interesting:

  1. A Manifesto For The New PR
  2. Why PR Doesn’t Work And How To Fix It
  3. Corporate Press Release/Statement Translation Tool
  4. Are We A “Profession?”

[tags]public relations, corporate communications, social media, PR manifesto, chief communications officer[/tags]

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog and signature Explore events. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments Policy

Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.literalmayhem.com letterhead

    Jason:

    I read it too. And I am a PR professional with 17 years in the business, working agency side, client side and freelance.

    I thought that this report was almost all hype, except for the survey results, which were written up by the folks at Financial Dynamics. The body of the report was full of jargon and meaningless catchphrases… like “business ecosystems of proliferating constituencies” and “componentized” responsibilities. And I think it misstates the relevence of PR2.0. (which I DO think will change our jobs to some degree.)

    The barebones messages of the piece are these:

    1) “Web 2.0 makes it harder to lie.”

    2) “Web 2.0 gives more people a bigger voice, and they may say bad stuff abount you; they may even lie.”

    Those are not Earth-shattering insights, no matter what kind of yucky consultant-speak they use to outline this “non-trivial, definitional challenge.”

    YES: Web 2.0 presents a lot of scary potential scenarios for losing control of message and brand identity. Just as much, however, it offers new channels for fostering communications with and among constituencies.

    This latter bit is truly the unique insight in the report. We used to communicate TO individual constituencies. Now we need to be active in the communication AMONG these constituencies because they can now much more easily nfluence each other — in real time.

    But it does not change anything about the core mission of communications professionals — it is a tactical challenge. Admitedly a big one. But strictly a tactical challenge nonetheless.

    Well… with one exception. If anything the Edelman/Walmart fiasco shows us that it’s an ethical challenge as well. Treating it like an entirely new, non-traditional world has encouraged non-traditional approaches that are, in a traditional view…. unethical.

    Finally, the idea that Communucations Chiefs should be at the executive table has ALWAYS been true… whether corporate execs admitted it or not. The idea that “transparency” and “authenticity” are crucial is not new… it has ALWAYS been the case. Those are good, ethical imperatives for our profession. Until now, execs have been abe to ignore them without immediate consequence. Web 2.0 makes the consequences more visible and more “impactful.”

    But in the end, good practice is good practice. Ethics are ethics. None of the philosophical “shoulds” about the PR profession have changed. We are just challenged in new tactical ways. But with new opportunities as well.

    Just some thoughts….

  • http://www.literalmayhem.com letterhead

    PS… my newest post deals with the ethical implications of PR 2.o with a real life eaxmple… if you are interested…

    thanks
    Martin

  • http://www.literalmayhem.com letterhead

    PS… my newest post deals with the ethical implications of PR 2.o with a real life example… if you are interested…

    thanks
    Martin

  • http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com Jason Falls

    Martin … Bravo! Thanks for the response. And please, feel free to leave your new post URLs in the future.

    For anyone wanting it, it is:

    http://www.literalmayhem.com/2007/12/26/ghost-writing-ethics-20-pr-firm-caught-with-pants-down-public-outraged-politics-as-usual/

    I agree with your assertion that the rules haven’t changed. Unfortunately, I don’t think the mindes of the C-level folks have much, either. Thus, we’re stuck in the same rut in many oranizations where the chief communicator is told what to say, not consulted before the messaging is made. My hope is that this isn’t true in most instances, but I’m afraid from what I’ve seen, it often is.

    Thanks again for such a detailed response. Very good discussion!

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