I recently joined the board of the Council of Public Relations Firms. For those not familiar, it is the leading PR trade group in the U.S., with a membership that includes nearly all of the large global public relations agencies as well as a high percentage of mid- and small-sized firms.
The Council advocates and educates. Its overall mission is to advance the interests of the public relations discipline. In conversations I had at and around the Council’s annual Critical Issues Forum last month, I found broad consensus on two points: 1) The industry has never had greater potential for growth, and 2) our discipline must aggressively seize the opportunities in front of it.
People I spoke with at the Forum believe that in order to realize its growth potential, the industry must address three areas in particular:
1. Metrics. The rapid changes in our business, combined with recession-driven pressures, have moved ROI front and center. Public relations must do a better job of showing how it delivers value.
2. Storytelling. As a discipline, public relations traditionally has not brought its campaigns to life as well as advertising, or even digital. This needs to change in order for PR to win vs. these increasingly frequent competitors.
3. Attitude. Despite having what every marketer wants – the ability to influence change through conversation and relationships – public relations too often has accepted a back-seat role. The Council members I spoke with agreed with Marc Pritchard (head of marketing at P&G and the keynote speaker at the Critical Issues Forum) that this must change if public relations is to fully realize its potential.
As a new member of the Council board, I am absolutely committed to helping public relations claim its birthright. As the CEO of Porter Novelli, and along with the agency’s leadership, I am determined that we will be nothing less than a transformative force in our industry. We will deliver on our strategy of being a globally integrated communication firm with a diverse talent pool, strong commitment to our values and leading innovations in areas such as digital and analytics. And we will lead in areas like ROI, storytelling, and – especially – attitude.