One of the exciting things for me about the PR community blog conversations is the growing confidence of its voices about their role as change agents, the willingness to embrace disruption and radicalism, to help organisations realise the full potential of communications.
It used to be that hidden in the shadows, communicators just took abuse from mainstream columnists every time they felt like venting their frustration about a poor experience dealing with a corporation, government department or having a tuppeny-flack bend their ear on the phone about a no-mark story.
We had no voice to reply with. At least I never heard one: industry bodies and trade mags never really sounded like they were speaking for me.
Now you increasingly see posts like this one from Marcel Goldstein, a senior VP at Ogilvy, kicking back at the catch-all use of PR as a term to capture and personify the shortcomings of corporate communications. He is stressing why we love Web 2.0: social media’s disruption of media and communications throughout organisations gives us a chance to really bring about change.
Here are a couple of choice paras from Mr Goldstein:
While press releases were once tools that initiated a two-way dialogue
between an institution and journalists, the Internet initially was a
setback for PR in that "releases" became one-way conversations posted
on Web sites. Now, the Internet era is delivering technologies that
aid, rather than retard, the profession’s objectives.
hearts and minds, PR professionals have always believed that long-term
success for any institution in a society with a democratically elected
government and a consumer-driven capitalist economy would require
effective public dialogue. As advisors, we now have an increased
ability to shape this vision of the future, enabled by these wonderful
The fact of the matter is PR people become PR people because they love communication, not because they like diluting language to the point of meaninglessness, or controlling the life out of a message, as they are sometimes accused of.
Where it exists, I suspect that behaviour is the result of organisational culture of risk aversion and deisre for distance from publics: a collective failing that communications professionals have railed against as often as being at fault for.
Views like Goldstein’s, like all of the 30 or so PR people on my aggregator, and the 500 on the Technorati PR list, buoy me up, give me the conviction that there is a revolution of sorts coming about for communications (among other things).
PR has a voice at last. And it’s not a monotone.