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Public Relations

“A Good PR Consultant Needs to Understand Business”

My response to A Good PR Consultant Needs to Understand Business bySara Benwell, originally posted on the Huffington Post.

In recent years, there has been a large amount of discussion about the future of public relations. Ask anyone outside of the communications function what “PR is” and they will likely give you a vague definition of media relations:

“Dealing and communicating with the news media when seeking publicity or responding to reporters’ questions…” more

Despite this misconception, senior level managers and CEOs are increasingly seeing the importance of communications professionals in the C-suite. Public relations can serve as the conscious of the organization, as a “whistle blower” to avoid potential crises and conflict with key publics.  According to The Authentic Enterprise, modern day PR pros must understand all the business functions in order to successful plan strategic communications plans that affect their company’s bottom line. Public relations is not about tactics: press releases, blog posts, press conferences. Public relations is now about engaging with senior management to help them address global integration, digital media, and new stakeholder empowerment. A good consultant needs to understand business in order to understand the issues facing their CEO, so that they can counsel him/her on best practices.

The article focuses more specifically on media relations practices:

“If you don’t understand the business properly then you have no way of pulling a news story apart and reassembling it in an interesting manner which still achieves what your clients want.”

Personally, I think there are larger, more significant reasons for public relations professional to be savvy on business practices. It is not only about understanding your clients, but also about being able to shape the future. That is why people are always talking about “having a seat at the table.” Perhaps this is just a fundamental difference between agencies and internal communications. Being able to construct an effective message in today’s crowded market will always be important, but in order for public relations to gain increased value to business, they need to focus on strategy rather than tactics.

The Arthur Page Society sums it up well in The Authentic Enterprise Report:

“Without question, our profession today is far stronger, with deeper skills, broader scope and greater status than ever before. Ours is an impressive record of change and growth. Today, however, we confront a very different reality. Fundamental change is occurring across message creation, channels and audiences simultaneously. This change is taking many forms, but there is one inescapable reality across all of them: We are no longer in control.”

What do you think?  Share you thoughts on The Authentic Enterprise in the comment section below. Working in communications? What has your experience been like with senior management? Should PR have a seat at the table?

Follow me: @AESmith03 

About Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a public relations student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Amanda is currently the V.P. of Public Relations on the Panhellenic Council executive board. She is also involved with PRSSA and Hill Communications, a student-run public relations firm.


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