9 Issues for a Nationally Televised PR Debate

151013_POL_who-won-democratic-debate.jpg.CROP.promo-xlarge2Envision a nationally televised debate among leaders in Public Relations. Who you picture on that stage is a pretty good indicator of the state of our profession. To keep the personalities out of this for now, what issues would you want debated? What are the themes resonating now that also will prepare us for a stronger future as the leaders of reputation management, storytelling and fair public discourse?

Following are some potential debate topics that Anderson Cooper and the like might ask PR leaders. Please chime in since it’s about all of us coming together for a brighter future, right?

  • Social media as strategy: After all the Facebook likes and Twitter followers, what do you have to show for it? Does social media move our brands forward or are we wallowing in a false sense of popularity or unpopularity? How can we make social media communications more meaningful?
  • Are we really that into Measurement? At a PR News conference in early October, roughly 90% of attendees said they did not know what the Barcelona Principles are. Does that mean communicators aren’t following those measurement guidelines, and is it beholden on senior leaders to ensure that all PR staff study and execute on this short list?
  • Are we getting closer to integrated communications? How can Marketing and PR collaborate more effectively and how can we resolve the issue of who gets a bigger piece of the budgetary pie? In other words, why can't we all just get along?
  • Is the press release dead?: Media relations is a touchstone of Public Relations, but are reporters and other stakeholders reading press releases?  We know the release is an important communications vehicle, so how can we make sure it’s leveraged effectively and is not the sole means of telling a story?
  • Is voice communication losing its sway? With texting, social media, emoji mania and email communication representing the majority of daily interactions, are people forgetting how to talk to one another and how can PR lead the way?
  • Is employee communications an HR thing? Though employees are on the front lines and the most likely brand ambassadors, what role does and should PR play internally?
  • Can PR be tied to sales? We’re told that it can, but how are you proving this and once proven why are we not shouting it out from the rooftops? This goes back to my Measurement question earlier. Shouldn’t PR be a driver of sales?
  • Why isn’t there more Diversity in PR? What more can we be doing so that at all voices are represented in this profession, that ethnic, racial and gender diversity are not a problem within our own ranks?
  • PR advocacy: there are at least a handful of PR associations representing the industry, but are we doing enough within our organizations to evangelize the power of PR?

Let’s end the debate on a high note. Public Relations is stronger than ever, as evidenced by the growing number of people entering the profession, the increase in PR compensation year over year and the utilization of PR counsel at the highest levels of an organization. The issues we face, however, will continue to challenge our profession. Let's deal with them head-on.

- Diane Schwartz