The challenge: The ease with which we can create content today – in words, images, video and sound – makes the view of public relations as a content engine alluring.
With more journalists entering the field, the skillset of the typical PR team may be better aligned with content creation than with strategic relationship management between an organization and its publics. The C-suite is open to PR – but getting there requires different thinking The opportunity: Public relations is playing more central roles than ever before in organizations.
Notwithstanding these risks and challenges, organizations benefit from this empowerment, too, enjoying new, low- cost access to ‘owned media,’ which presents new opportunities to create content and build relationships with key publics. The content shock: The explosion of content available to all of us has created what writer Mark Schaefer calls content shock, “the emerging marketing epoch defined when exponentially increasing volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it” – let alone “engage” with it. Many speak, few listen: While giving voice to publics is widely accepted to be fundamental to successful public relations, as well as democracy and social equity, most organizations use communication technology to improve amplification, not to improve listening.
Australian academic Jim Macnamara makes this point in summarizing his research into organizational listening, noting that while organizations “’talk the talk’ of two-way communication, engagement, dialogue, conversation, consultation, collaboration and relationships with their stakeholders and publics...
If you enjoy writing and talking to different people, and love framing ideas in imaginative and engaging ways, then a career in PR may be right for you.
It may also involve working with journalists, organising events, crisis/issues management, sponsorship and fundraising, government lobbying, and community/corporate relations.
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Public relations is an exciting, fast-growing industry that involves using strategic communication to help an organisation maintain trusted relationships with its key stakeholders, seek to influence people's opinions or behaviour, and achieve its overall mission.
The opportunity: The social web has energized public relations in the last decade, and mastering its use to manage issues and relationships online has helped many professionals break out of the media-relations ‘box.’ Some PR practitioners have gone even further, rebranding themselves as ‘content marketers.’ Given the implications of content shock – coupled with the prospect of artificial intelligence driving both content creation and marketing – this movement should be reconsidered.
PR must claim higher ground: that of being stewards of the organization’s relationships and reputation with each of its publics.