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Public relations is driving business

I’ve worked with many wise people in different parts of the world and collected a lot of lessons along the way.

One of the most significant ongoing themes has been the power of words to drive a business in a desired direction. It is the spoken and written word that can make the difference between a visionary and successful company, and one that loses its way.

This was brought home to me by my boss in Dubai during years of massive pre-GFC economic growth, a property boom to dwarf any other and projects the size of cities endorsed by the rich, the royal and the famous. It was a time beyond all times.

“Build and they will come”, was a common saying in that part of the world during these years, and probably still is. Applied to words, phrases and sentences, this could be adapted to “say it and they will follow.”

As long as the resulting communication is associated with trust and integrity there is every reason for words to be one of the most powerful management tools for any business.

Communication is a management tool

The skill of using words to help a business achieve its aims is often lost in the profession that has become public relations. The understanding of PR’s value can also disappear in a fog.

In too many meetings and briefs over the years, I’ve seen the requirement to achieve publicity from an occurrence, event or piece of news. “Be creative and get some attention” has been the battle cry for the PR machine to swing into action.

Make no mistake, news generation is one of the fundamental aspects of public relations and as professionals our skills of storytelling and writing make us stand out from other professions. We are experts at balancing clear business messages with the news itself.

But too often the value of public relations is minimised because it is left until the last minute; an afterthought used to generate publicity, report and not to achieve a far greater goal than just news.

PR has a highly strategic purpose

PR is not just a provider of news, as its value comes from being integral to all business communication.

As such, it should take its rightful place at the top table to ensure the consistent, compelling communication to empower and engage with the people a business needs to connect with. News generation is just one part of this wider strategic purpose.

Thankfully this purpose is being emphasised as communications becomes more cluttered and complex, and the number of channels through which companies communicate increase.

Online channels and the need for control

Looking back on my mid-length career I have to admit it used to be simpler.

Public relations required dealing mostly with media, combined with corporate, B2B and consumer communication. But it’s changed. The journalistic media has become far more focused while the number of other channels to use for communication has increased beyond anyone’s imagination. With this range and eclecticism the need for control is even greater.

Public relations can now take a greater role in the communication mix. Never before have there been so many written and spoken words used to talk about or present any business or organisation.

In the simplest terms this is great news for public relations and its ability to truly drive business.

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