PR: Spin Masters of the world…really?
I couldn’t help thinking that whilst there were many great things about Jeremy Hazlehurst’s recent article in Management Today, entitled ‘Spin Masters: How PR is taking over the world’ but that on the whole it undersold the value that good, professional communications skills have always played in the business and in the process perpetuated a few myths.
While it is hard to dispute Jeremy’s argument that PR now plays a greater role and receives greater recognition in the boardroom, some of his article regrettably still plays to industry clichés and lauds spin mastery that many PROs today not only consider old fashioned or indeed inappropriate.
Yes, relationships will always be a key driver of success in business and PR, but surely what enlightened businesses understand today is that power and success are derived not from the relationships themselves, but from the knowledge and insights that relationships proffer. Mastering how to value and leverage that knowledge to manage a brand or individual’s reputation is where PR professionals can step into their own. Indeed, it is these communications skills that have secured PR professionals a place at the boardroom table.
Essential skills for business leaders today have never been more aligned to the PR discipline. There have been too many recent examples of how reputation management – through good as well as atrocious PR – has been share price sensitive and career making and breaking. From BP to more recently the BBC, business leaders and brands can no longer hide behind marketing hype, spin or cover ups. We have moved from an Age of Deference, to an Age of Reference, where businesses, consumers and voters sniff out scams, untruths and inauthentic or unacceptable behaviour in real time and through multiple on and off line channels.
As business leaders strive to earn the trust of their board, so too successful PR professionals, whose laser focus and genuine understanding of compelling and authentic story-telling enables them to earn the trust of multiple audiences and stakeholders. In a world where trust is the ultimate measure of brand value, being able to engage and establish goodwill through honest, transparent and meaningful communication is priceless.
Surely this makes PR professionals masters, not of spin, but in the science and art of communication and its real impact on the bottom line.