I am happy to introduce a two-part post by guest blogger Peter Metzinger, physicist and former Campaigns Director of Greenpeace Switzerland, Partner and Managing Director of The Reputation Rescue Company AG, and Chairman of pro:campaigning. Enjoy! ~ Jules
By Peter Metzinger
I know many really good PR people who share the same problem that many communicators share: C-level executives do not understand that communication is a strategic management task, and as a result, they hire us when it’s already too late or they ask us to execute plans that are not worth the paper they are written upon. (And later, they complain that there was no Return on Investment coming from spending a PR budget.)
On the other hand, I have seen many PR people who do not think out of their boxes and promise to solve any problem through communication. But, although actually everything IS communication, some problems require other solutions. The original definition by the pioneer of PR was more than just communication. Edward Bernays, the «father of spin» gave the definition:«Public Relations is a management function which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures and interest of an organization followed by executing a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.»
My hypothesis is that the creatives (the communicators) need to better understand the management side and need to acquire those skills. And the management side needs a better understanding of the communicators’ side. I believe it is the obligation of those who actually see the problem to make the first step. By the way, we have the same issue in the branding industry. Marty Neumeier wrote a great book about it: The Brand Gap.
Personally, I chose another way. During my time as a Greenpeace campaigner (1984 – 1997) I learned a profession called campaigning, which includes communication skills as much as management skills. So the solution is already inherently included in the understanding of what we do. In 1998 I developed a concept that allows political campaigning as an approach to be translated for business, so that it can also be applied in the business context, not only in the political context. It might be useful for PR people who share the same understanding of PR to have a look at what I define as campaigning.
I am currently writing an English version of my book on business campaigning. A German version was published in 2003 at Springer. Jules suggested that I publish the summary on her blog, to open it up for a discussion. So here we go.
[Stay tuned…Peter’s book summary will be posted tomorrow.]