“I think that PR has always been about relationships, but it has changed fundamentally in that relationships have almost become the primary responsibility of a PR practitioner-and it’s not just with the Wall Street Journal or New York Times-it’s relationships with everyone who has a significant influence on the reputation of your company. I think it’s great for the function, for the profession, and it’s much more exciting for me to think about managing relationships and issues rather than practicing stereotypical PR, which is…get something from the marketing team that they want to sell, then put a press release together and call a few reporters. It’s a very good development.” Gary Sheffer, general manager, public affairs and employee communications, General Electric
Nine months ago (in January) I posted on another blog a first ‘provokation’ elaborating – in three consecutive and fairly detailed installments integrated with great comments by visitors on the same post – on the potential breakthrough for our profession, if only we could learn to transit public relations practice from a personal influence to an organizational influence model, thus transforming one of our most highly perceived added-values, namely personal relationships, into organizational relationships.
My initial arguments, at the time, were that this transition could be approached by adopting, adapting and applying, within any organization, advanced knowledge management systems; and that such process would hugely benefit organizations, both by improving their stakeholder relationship management efforts, and even more by increasing the organization’s immaterial capital: thus significantly accelerating the institutionalization of our profession.
I am now proud to introduce you to a solid research paper written for her graduation capstone by Kristin Johnson, an excellent, (now former) student at New York University’s Masters Course in Public Relations and Corporate Communication (where I teach Global Relations and Intercultural Communication).
In this paper Kristin develops the seed of the idea, and smartly elaborates not only in its conceptualization but, most importantly, in an on-site ‘reality check’ by means of direct, interpersonal and extensive interviews with a selected number of professional leaders; which in turn allowed her to structure an online questionnaire submitted to, and compiled by, another significant number of authoritative senior professionals from major international organizations and institutions around the world.
This effort was stimulated and assisted by the Institute for Public Relations and its Commission on Global PR Research, and is now being posted on the Institute’s website for your perusal, in the high hope that you will want to add, criticise, comment and suggest.
In order to allow me to put all these materials (my original first drafts, additional research by Antonio Lorenzon, Kristin Johnson’s capstone, your comments…) together in a proper research paper format in the next few weeks, and to submit the final results to the Institute for approval and publication.
I am very grateful for your attention and sincerely hope you will also wish to contribute to the effort.