As we start a new year, I’m pleased to begin my term as 2014 chair of the Universal Accreditation Board (UAB), which oversees the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential. The world’s largest certification program for public relations professionals, the APR celebrates this year its 50th anniversary. This is an exciting milestone that gives us the opportunity to celebrate our past, reflect on our present, and prepare for our future.
Public relations executives fought for years to earn their place in the C-suite. That fight for credibility and respect has taken on a new dimension, as advertising and marketing — two disciplines long grounded in measurement — are converging with public relations through the “integrated” approach to communications that is increasingly common. Senior management speaks the language of metrics, and public relations professionals will need to be quantitative and measurement-savvy to remain vital for their organizations.
Of course, “measurement” isn’t new to public relations. Every practitioner has heard about measurement capabilities from clients, business executives and internal budget committees: “How do you measure the value of public relations?”, or “What’s the real value we’re getting out of campaign X, or Y program expenditure?”
Many challenges face public relations today — distrust of business, economic uncertainty, and a new media environment driven by Web 2.0 technologies and social media. As if that’s not enough, a recently released Gallup poll shows that consumers have lost confidence in print and broadcast news — posing what may be the greatest challenge to our industry. And, it’s one born not of technology, but of simple economics.
Despite best efforts to offer factual, objective and timely information to the media, what can you do when your audience no longer believes what they hear?
For consumers, news is never farther away than the smart phone on their waist or the hotspot around the corner. Bombarded 24/7 with news, analysis and commentary, it’s no wonder that media is more fragmented and segmented than ever before. In this morass of news coverage, media channels are in constant competition for the audiences who drive their ratings and bottom line. So, to keep their viewers, readers, advertisers and corporate management happy, media outlets need to focus on appealing to, rather than informing, the audience.
It’s remarkable how quickly time passes in today’s hyper-frenetic world.
Though it seems like just yesterday, it was in January of 2009 that PRSA started publishing PRSAY. It was the second blog to be launched by PRSA, following the introduction of our professional development blog, ComPRehension, in September of 2007.
We created PRSAY in response to research that showed strong member interest in new ways of communicating and exchanging ideas with PRSA leaders. But after 15 months of publishing PRSAY, we realized that the blog has come to serve multiple roles — part PRSA news vehicle, part industry commentator and part celebrant of people, places and things — without ever fully realizing its intended purpose.
Ask a public relations professional, “What do you do for a living?” and you may get as many different answers as there are practice specialties and organizational settings. Ironically, defining the discipline can be nearly as tough as combating the persistent stereotypes that denigrate its value and reputation.
To foster more accurate and better-informed perceptions surrounding the value and roles of public relations, PRSA today rolled out “The Business Case for Public Relations™.” This advocacy campaign, which was created with input from senior industry leaders, is intended to drive industry recognition and growth by helping professionals in the field educate key stakeholders about public relations’ functions and outcomes, demonstrate its strategic value and enhance its reputation.
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PRSAY is a forum for PRSA members and other public relations professionals to engage in a dialogue with PRSA leaders, exchange viewpoints, and share perspectives on issues of concern to the Society and the public relations industry as a whole. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of PRSA.