Changing Perceptions of a Misunderstood Profession

The negative and often misunderstood perception of public relations professionals and the entire industry has been a thorn in the industry’s paw for decades. We’re managing the reputations and images of clients we represent, but what’s being done to change the negative perceptions of our own industry?

The C-suite is beginning to realize the value of public relations toward the overall success of an organization. We have a seat at the table, but we need to prove we deserve to be there and demonstrate how important the communications function is. If we want the respect we deserve as a profession, we need to take our education and training and use it to improve our own profession’s reputation.

The negative views of our work were molded by the media, Hollywood and unethical practices over the years. There’s are common misconceptions about what we do as PR professionals. We’re not all publicists doing damage control for celebrities and other public figures. We don’t lie. We dont spin the truth.

Our work is very strategic, and much of it involves building better relationships between organizations and the public.

If we’re hoping to improve our industry’s reputation and gain trust and respect among the public, we must:

  • Highlight and enforce our Code of Ethics to ensure the profession continues to be positively perceived in the eyes of the public.
  • Change the stigma of PR pros being flacks or spin doctors. Transparency and openness is crucial toward the success of our profession for the long term. Make people aware of our practices and try to educate and inform.
  • Practice Corporate Social Responsibility by supporting communities and people we work with. These good deeds humanize our industry and make it clear that philanthropy, not profit, is at the heart of what we do.
  • Use appropriate measurement standards to tie in PR plans and strategies to the bottom line of a company. Use data and analytics to show the value of PR programs and how they contribute to business goals.

This is clearly not an extensive list, but surely a good approach toward a new direction for this industry. The work we do for clients is invaluable, and good practices, ethics and deeds will help change the perceptions of a misunderstood profession.

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Brands Need to Engage With Audiences on Social Media

Two weeks ago, I sent a tweet to the PRWeek twitter account asking if they had plans to improve the sound quality of their weekly podcasts. Weeks went by with no reply, and my inquiry remained unanswered. We work in an industry that stresses the importance of audience engagement and participation, and as a fan of PRWeek’s content I felt unimportant when my simple question went unanswered.

Social media transformed the PR industry in many unique ways. Never before have we been able to reach audiences in a space where everyone can share content, ideas and opinions with friends, family and complete strangers.

It’s been an absolute game changer in this profession. This experience made me realize that some companies and organizations don’t place enough value on social media and how a short response can create a lasting impression on someone. It’s time consuming for social media managers to sift through each individual twitter mention and send replies, but going the extra mile ensures people will remain loyal to your brand and feel valued as a fan and consumer.

What people want is a sense of belonging and knowing their concerns are being heard. Social media is an effective customer service tool, and brands need to effectively moderate their channels to participate in discussions, answer questions and remain engaged with your brand and its fans online.