Several people I have been discussing PR with on one of my LinkedIN groups, PR Road Show (@prRoadShow), recently came to the agreement that our approach as communications advisors must be to understand and satisfy the needs of the C-suite client, as well as communicating the benefits of PR. We not only have to excel at influencing our communities, audiences, media, customers and clients, but we have to have that same level of leadership, trust and influence with our executive teams.

I think our jobs just got a little harder.
If we look at Edward Bernays’ (father of PR, just in case you forgot) definition of PR, as was suggested by one member we may find that more is expected of us:

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.

So, if we are PR professionals, we are executing a management function. Therefore, we must also have the executive leadership skills required of such a job.

Leo Bottary’s recent blog post along these same lines titled “To Counsel Leaders, It Helps to Understand Leadership,” addresses this topic. Leo, an Independent Consultant and Adjunct Professor, intrigued me with his quote to the group:

I find it interesting that during tough economic times, many PR people are scrambling to keep their jobs. During good times, it’s our job to help CEOs understand that when things get tough, they’re much better off having us by their sides than on the sidelines or, worse yet, the unemployment lines. To do so requires us to ask ourselves the hard questions about how PR/communication is serving the client/organization each and every day!

Yes, we are PR Pros, Communicators, Managers and Leaders. While we are busy tending to the public, we must also be tending to the C-suite as well.

Happy communicating!


P.S. I am happy to announce that on Wed & Thurs my guest will be 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.

6 thoughts on “Are We PR Pros, Communicators, Managers, or Leaders?

  1. And thank you for your support, as well. Can’t wait to hop on the purple PR bus and take the show on the road. Until then, I’ll keep you updated on Linkedin and via Twitter @prRoadShow. Best, Jules

  2. Leadership, management etc – these are certainly themes that resonate through James Grunig’s work on public relations and, as far as I am concerned, for good, logical reasons.

    You are right, Jules, when you imply that the C-suite is our profession’s ultimate target audience. And you are right when you say we need to be more creative in achieving cut-through to this audience. One path might be adopting one of my favourite approaches, that of strategic alliances…what professional group will help us gain the traction we need…marketers, COOs etc?

  3. Funny, Paul. And if we are not tired from doing all of the above, then we’re exhausted by the effort it takes to get our work recognized. Either way, we’re going to be working hard for our money, so we might as well do what it takes to have a seat at the table. As always, thanks for sharing. ~ Jules

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