10 things PR needs to get right to succeed

PR pro Paul Holmes offers his prescription for the industry to improve.

If you’re in the PR industry, you’ve spent endless hours debating, agonizing over and reading about the future of PR. But it’s not every day that you’re invited to look into the crystal ball of one of the great PR minds of our generation.

Last week, Worldcom Public Relations Group invited its members to do just that. Paul Holmes, president & CEO of the Holmes Group and editor of the HolmesReport, shared his predictions for the PR industry in 2012. To my relief, it looks like there may be exceptionally clear skies ahead.

In fact, Holmes predicts that PR will soon earn a seat at the executive table as the C-suite begins to recognize the importance of effectively managing relationships between organizations and key stakeholders.

But is PR really ready to take on this challenge? According to Holmes, we’re in an era of unprecedented opportunity for our industry, but it won’t all be smooth sailing.

Here are the 10 things he says PR must “get right” to succeed:

1. Recruitment: We must attract toplevel people—those who understand not only PR, but the business environment affecting our clients.

2. Development: Our industry is evolving; it’s critical that our people keep pace. We must ensure we are continuously seeking out and providing learning opportunities for our colleagues/employees.

3. Retention: Attracting the best people isn’t enough; we must also retain them. It’s important that we create engaging work environments and put our people first… even if that means letting clients go when they don’t do the same.

4. Research: Think “Moneyball.” Billy Beane was able to defy conventional wisdom and outsmart much richer baseball franchises with the use of research. PR needs to do the same.

5. Conversation: PR isn’t about crafting and delivering messages. It’s about two-way conversation; listening as much as talking.

6. Content: We have to become adept at content creation. We must be able to create content that enables us to reach stakeholders in an impactful way.

7. Courage: “Do one brave thing today… then run like hell.” We must have the courage to counsel our clients; to truly earn a seat at that executive table.

8. Integrity: Credibility is critical to our industry. As Marcus Aurelius said, “If it’s not right, don’t do it. If it’s not true, don’t say it.”

9. Independence: The advice we give must be genuinely neutral in terms of media channels and tactics. PR folks: that means that if the right solution is advertising (gasp!)—that’s what we recommend.

10. Measurement: At the end of the day, if we’re going to have a seat at the table, we must become better at measuring the value of PR and the relationships it builds and manages. We have access to more data today than ever before. We must find more effective ways of using it.

What else would you say PR needs to “get right” to survive as our industry and the business environment continues to evolve?

Aven James is an account supervisor at Bliss PR. She blogs at B2B Bliss where a version of this post first appeared.

Topics: PR


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