Tuesday, August 23, 2005

What Should PR Do? 

Richard Edelman in his blog on two occasions recently discussed what PR should be. He was unhappy with the idea that PR practitioners are merely message crafters and distributors. His view isn't new, but it did address a fundamental split between those who see PR as relationship building and those who see it as cheap advertising or publicity.

Edelman's unhappiness got me to thinking about what we do. I wrote this essay as a result. It is called, "Staying on Message: One-way Communication versus Relationships." Edelman is quoted at the beginning to set the scene.

I don't take sides, but I do highlight the difficulties of thinking about PR as a relationship business. The challenges are enormous, and PR practitioners are their own worst enemies in achieving the goal of becoming relationship builders. Just about everyone in PR comes in for criticism, but the only ones who can reform PR are from within.

Although I don't say it in the paper, I believe it is independent PR agencies like Edelman that can forge a new course for the business. None have succeeded yet. There is no guarantee they ever will because PR departments in corporations and buyers of PR services are firmly fixed in message-crafting.

I would like to see Edelman's vision come true, but it is time to stop talking about what PR should be doing and get on with changing our ways. Regrettably, it is easier to talk than to act.


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