Editor’s note: PRSay today begins a series of guest posts 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.
This year at the PRSA Leadership Assembly in Orlando, Fla., teams of professionals met to discuss a variety of topics, including the value of public relations. As leaders in our field, we often have to justify our roles to our bosses and clients. Given the recent advocacy by PRSA surrounding its “Business Case for Public Relations™” initiative, the conversation regarding the value of public relations was rich.
One of our key conversations centered on public relations’ value to corporate reputation, employee morale, customer loyalty — all of which benefit the bottom line. When part of top leadership, public relations professionals serve as a strong compass with respect to business ethics.
Here is a running list of the value of the public relations function:
- Advocates on behalf of companies, products and services.
- Helps to educate citizens about important social issues, including healthcare reform.
- Supports efforts in raising money for worthy projects and societal needs.
- Through effective communications during times of crisis, maintains relationships with stakeholders and, therefore, helps to preserve and enhance a company’s reputation.
- Helps companies and organizations achieve a variety of business goals.
Opinions on the value of public relations widely vary, depending on who you ask. For example, because of publicity surrounding famous celebrities and our industry’s long-standing association with media relations, the general public’s perceptions of the industry can sometimes be skewed, and descriptive words such spin, flack, fluff and exaggeration come into play. Undoubtedly, cynicism toward the profession exists.
During the PRSA 2011 Leadership Assembly, we agree that one of the most important steps PR leaders can take to elevate the profession is to demonstrate to business leaders that public relations creates more than outputs such as news placements and Web hits. Through effective research and evaluation, we can also demonstrate the outcomes of our efforts — the bottom-line impacts. This requires us to have business literacy. It requires us to understand measurement tools and advocate for necessary resources — financial and otherwise — to effectively evaluate our work.