HR isn’t dead; it’s just now called PR

It would simply amaze you to know how similar the goals and business processes of HR, PR, marketing and communication departments are, says this corporate veteran and consultant.

As an HR practitioner and someone who has worked in the field for more than 10 years, I have a solid foundation and understanding of how human resources works within a corporation, and from a consultant’s standpoint.

Over the last two years, there has been much debate about the death of HR. Although the fundamentals of HR that we come to think of—like hiring and firing—remain the same, HR is evolving not because it wants to but because it has to. It’s a valuable member of the public relations team, with a legal twist.

As a consultant, I’ve come to realize there is a thin line that separates departments such as human resources and public relations.

Four departments—PR, communications, human resources, and marketing—work hard (often separately) to craft campaigns, devise strategies and develop plans to educate, engage and influence an audience of consumers.

Though the consumer or end user may vary, all four work to craft, influence and execute positive messages internally and externally about a company or corporation.

HR, PR, communications & marketing—not so different

Internally, HR crafts memos and e-mails, and it designs newsletters. It also prepares for the newest policy change and develops the best overall communication strategy to educate the end user on things like benefit plans, self-review and 360 feedback processes, and the online corporate diversity program. Externally, we write advertisements and job descriptions for job boards, write corporate blogs and work with our university, diversity and other affirmative-action partners to fill open positions.

Tossed into the mix: Conducting investigations and mitigating and developing damage control strategies for the e-mail miscommunication on holiday pay, while working with corporate teams to forecast department openings and identifying our future internal talent.

Ever heard of a thing called employer branding? What about marketing HR? These are but two of thousands of blogs and articles devoted to the shift, a change in thought.

Chances are your marketing teams and PR departments manage and oversee your social media, monitoring key words and phrases, and managing comments and conversations. HR teams often do the same, internally monitoring the workplace grapevine, internal e-mail and instant-message platforms while promoting job openings, sourcing and marketing to prospective employees and current or potential consumers.

Your human resources and recruiting teams are the champion of your employer brand. Yes, I said “brand.”

The overlap is everywhere, and most HR professionals go about their daily responsibilities acutely unaware. HR is more than just hiring and firing. It’s about maintaining a positive public and corporate image, predicting and planning for the consequences, and implementing planned action programs that serve both the organization and the public.

Though I don’t believe HR is meant to replace PR, I believe that fundamentally we are the same, and by working together instead of apart we can help to truly transform an organization and communicate a clear and consistent message to all consumers throughout all departments. Don’t be surprised if you see the crossover already beginning. More and more savvy HR professionals are reconsidering their corporate career paths into the marketing, public relations and branding arenas.

So, you want to work in marketing, PR, or communications? Try HR. And maybe just maybe there’s a seat at the table for HR after all.

It’s called the vice president of communications.

Jessica Miller-Merrell is CEO of Xceptional HR and blogs at Blogging4Jobs.

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