Monday, February 26, 2024
Udaipur Standard Hindi

Does PR have enough weight within organizations?

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<p data-recalc-dims=Representative image (iStock)

Representative image (iStock)
By Rajeev Banerjee

Recently, I was invited to conduct a class social communication – Synopsis and applications for students pursuing a postgraduate degree in Media, PR and Advertising. Although I had to give a presentation, I insisted on giving the audience an insightful perspective on PR and corporate communications based on my years in this space. This realistic view of what we do now and what we must do as a fraternity in the near future comes from the belief that the world is in a state of flux. And within the vortex of increased activism, social media journalism, technology, domestic and international events that cast a shadow over businesses, PR as a profession can either display resilience like a log that will be on the sidelines for a while. Can sink but always floats up. Or it becomes a stone that makes a lot of noise when it hits the water but eventually sinks to the bottom in no time.

PR, PR everywhere…

There is enough happening around us to give PR professionals enough food for thought. brands grappling with perception issues and questioning the need for PR Resources within the organization. These examples may be few and far between today, but the big question that deserves attention is whether the profession has enough influence within organizations. Do our internal stakeholders see us as a strategic resource? Or are we simply called to ‘manage headlines’ or ‘issue press releases’? For any PR professional, managing their internal constituency and appreciating the value that this work brings to the table is and will continue to be the most challenging task at hand. I’m sure many of us at some point in our careers have asked the question, ‘What exactly does this job do?’ From someone inside the organization. I personally have not seen or heard of marketing or branding teams posing this question. It seems that the work done by marketing or branding teams is clear, while PR seems vague. Today, the impact of any adverse impact on a brand’s reputation is greater than ever. And this is only due to the flows in the world around us, which I touched on above in this article. Brands today face intense scrutiny from all sides and it is important that internal stakeholders realize the important role of PR professionals in not only identifying potential reputation issues but also providing advice on mitigating them. I use the term mitigation because in today’s interconnected world, it is almost impossible to remove ‘bad news’. Minimizing the potential adverse impact on the brand is the objective and that’s what any PR professional dealing with their internal constituency crisis should say.

Re-boot, Re-equip, Re-network and Re-imagine

PR as a profession needs to revisit ‘networking’. Sure, the relationship with the media will continue, but the universe needs to expand. I firmly believe that the PR profession also needs to have advocacy as part of its professional expertise. And this eco-system has its own set of experts and professionals, whose knowledge can enhance and beautify the work we do. We are well aware and have adapted to technology-major changes in the form of digital marketing, content marketing and SEO to name a few. To my mind, the expansion of advocacy requires a similar approach that opens us up to the world of policy making, current affairs and administration, all intertwined with managing a brand’s reputation. One could argue that such roles already exist in an organization. They are independent, technical and require domain knowledge. My request is to work towards adding to this dimension by gaining knowledge and networking to make this task a force multiplier within the organization. This augurs well for both the organization and the individual in the long run.

the last element is re-imagining how cost benefit Measured on PR efforts. Yes, possible access (online, offline), clip received, message scoring will remain. But can we add a commercial dimension to it. Let me give an example. Suppose, you are a PR professional with a BFSI firm. If your proactive efforts in the field of advocacy translate into a potential business opportunity for the organization, the measure of success suddenly becomes a new definition for what you do. Nothing is as measurable as a hard core numbers driven business opportunity in an organization.

To conclude, it is easier said than done on the aspects I have outlined. The labyrinth of organizational maze and silos makes any endeavor a difficult process. But then again, as we all know, building a brand’s reputation is a bit of a process. It doesn’t happen overnight. Similarly, gaining more credibility and building reputation within an organization for a PR professional will require a step-by-step process, patience and some skilled out-of-the-box thinking.

The writer is Group Head-Corporate Communication Piramal Group, The views expressed here are entirely personal.

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