For the eight months ended August 31, 2012, PRSA’s net financial results are tracking better than 2011, better than the 2012 budget for the same period and are poised to meet or exceed our annual goal of returning 1% of annual operating expenses back to the reserves.
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Editor’s note: This is the final post in a five-part series of guest commentary pieces from PRSA 2011 Leadership Assembly Delegates focusing on five key strategic areas within the public relations profession.
During the PRSA 2011 International Conference in Orlando, Fla., PRSA Leadership Assembly Delegates had the opportunity to join in a number of roundtable discussions. I had the pleasure of participating in a strategic-planning discussion facilitated by Jane Dvorak, APR, Fellow PRSA, with other PR professionals representing both the public and private sector. The following are some of the highlights of that discussion.
How are public relations professionals currently contributing to strategic planning initiatives within their organizations?
Participants said they used strategic planning as a way to augment marketing budgets. Several reported that their employers didn’t require a strategic plan, and that they had taken the initiative to develop one to position the value of public relations in the planning process.
We discussed the importance of aligning our PR plans with the overall business plan and objectives as helps open the conversation with senior management. Doing so enables PR professionals to act as counselors for the management team and take advantage of the opportunity to bring the value of PR to their attention. Including PR in the overall strategic-planning process also allows for the connection between PR and marketing in achieving organizational goals.
Public relations professionals need to build greater credibility through better measurement. That’s the assessment made by a group of senior public relations professionals at PRSA’s 2011 Leadership Assembly in Orlando, Fla.
It’s no secret that public relations professionals have long desired a quick and standardized method for measuring the value of their work. We still use advertising equivalents that are problematic, but alternatives are often very costly. Public relations professionals need more statistical training. For example, is it possible to distinguish public relations from other strategies through regression analysis?
Another challenge is trying to identify those crises or other organizational issues that do not occur as a result of public relations efforts. In these cases, can the organization compare itself to similar ones within an industry? An additional issue is return on investment pressures that focus on short-term results when measurement should really be occurring six or twelve months later.
Former PRSA Chair Michael Cherenson, APR, Fellow PRSA, noted one way to address the need to increase statistical courses for business and public relations students is through PRSA’s outreach to MBA programs. The group discussed a possible certification in statistical analyses and how it might be instituted. In addition, the delegates said we often discuss measurement, but not specific application of it. Additional initiatives might include specific Silver Anvil awards focusing on measurement and evaluation.
Examining integrated marketing communications and how public relations professionals are integrated into the mix within their organization, several issues emerge that defy simple answers.
The move toward integrated communication is being driven by a combination of factors, of which social media is simply the most recent.
An informal poll among our discussion group found a consensus that small nonprofits are already utilizing integrated marketing communications due to their size and budget constraints, a conclusion some public relations researchers have also reached. Public relations agencies are moving toward integration as well because that’s what clients need and are demanding. However, most corporations still maintain the silo structure between public relations and marketing.
One of the opportunities for PR is the need to clearly define what the marketing/communications mix is. Although some studies suggest otherwise, there is a hidden danger in the term “integrated marketing communication.” When the word “marketing” is included, the inference is that marketing takes precedence in the relationship, whether intended or not. Is it time to move beyond integrated marketing communications to integrated strategic communications? It’s possible.
Editor’s note: This is the second post in a series of guest commentary pieces from PRSA 2011 Leadership Assembly Delegates focusing on five key strategic areas within the public relations profession. Today’s post focuses on the business value of public relations.
The permeation and rapid omnipresence of social media presents numerous challenges and opportunities for its natural curator: public relations professionals. At the PRSA 2011 Leadership Assembly in Orlando, Fla., a discussion group talked about these topics as well as how future public relations professionals can be prepared for their organization’s use of social media and the role that PRSA can play.
First, let’s look at how public relations professionals are currently participating in social media initiatives. Even though technology is involved, public relations professionals are largely the leaders and managers of social media thanks to social media being a two-way conversation. This aspect of social media is similar to other areas of public relations and, as such, public relations professionals are responsible for educating those outside the profession about social media and advocating for appropriate social media strategies. Just like public relations, organizations find value in social media when it drives business results.
Finding the value in social media is one of the challenges to public relations professionals establishing a leadership role within their organizations. There seems to be a lack of understanding by the C-suite, and measurement can be difficult. In addition, IT or legal departments may limit employees’ access to social media for various reasons. Another challenge is limited resources and commitment — after all, who wants to dedicate a lot of time and energy into a social media tool that fades into obscurity?
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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.