Last month I was in Miami for the 15th Annual International Public Relations Research Conference. For three days, researchers, teachers, masters, doctoral students and PR professionals from around 15 different countries were gathered together to discuss over than 108 researches that were made the past year.
All kind of topics were presented, but social networks took the major attention this time: 38% of the research had to do something with this issue, while another important topic, with the 18%, was the one that involved the issue of Financial Crisis, eight papers were done about the evaluation and measurement of Public Relations nowadays, another nine were done for Social Responsibility and the rest of them talked about various topics. It caught my attention the boom of PR in different Asian markets, there were eight Asian speakers discussing this topic.
There is no doubt that the phenomenon that has changed the life of every PR specialist is the creation and development of the Social Networks; most of the research about this topic tries to reveal the great mystery of how we use them, and how they had become our most powerful communication tool between corporate and society. Today it is impossible to talk about public relations without mentioning social networking.
In fact, the social networking phenomenon has meant a “renaissance or resizing” for the PR activity, the effect is such that it has generated inside the PR community an energizing effect: all its exercise around the world is on the rise, its growth inside European and Asian Markets has been very dynamic in recent years. Today talking about PR in China is a revelation, even though the media restrictions.
This makes me think that the task of public relations is going through a time of great importance since, on the one hand, we´ve been dragging a generation that has fought for several years for the profession for giving it the due importance; and on the other side, we have in the new generations an understanding established as a matter of vital importance for the business world. They walk now without the old obstacles against which we fought for years and where the basic dispute was against the traditional media.
Today, traditional media is also in a struggle for its own survival against large audiences who have slipped through the back door of technology and took them away their control of public opinion without any warning. Nowadays we get the news out of society and through social networks faster than through traditional media.
It is time for the PR Old School to stop suffering a world that no longer exists, a world where they use to spend more time giving explanations than really achieving business goals. Today with no doubt, theories, as important as public affairs and social expectations, are the new issues on the agenda of the CEO´s, businesses and PR professionals.
For practical purposes, we no longer need to prove the importance, or effectiveness, of this profession. We must turn back the page and leave behind the eternal existential doubt about how we should define Public Relations, the specialization will give it the right dimension of the function, since, as in any mature profession plain and simple, it counts with professionals of all kinds.