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Guest post: Time for public relations to get its mojo back – PRmoment’s founder Ben Smith

Ben Smith, founder of PRmoment, agreed to contribute this post speaking up for the public relations industry after he ran a recent event on the future of the profession.

By Ben Smith

Please everyone stop. I’ve read enough. It seems to have become fashionable for senior people, not all, I hasten to add, to become doomsayers for the PR sector.

Does anyone know why? I visit loads of PR agencies, and in-house teams for that matter, and guess what? There are some shit ones. But there are far more good ones. And there are even some bloody brilliant ones.

Most PR people I meet are intelligent, motivated and living in the real world. The sector is not the media relations shop it once was. There is a lot of great work going on. Truly integrated stuff, collaborated work across multiple channels.

Brands such as eBay, Microsoft, McClaren, Oxfam, Philips and Unilever, to name just a few, have got robust PR analytics processes. The idea that public relations is the poor relation in terms of analytics and measurement just doesn’t stack up.

PR analytics is no more complex than advertising analytics. Very simply set your objectives, make sure you’ve got some waypoints built into the process and see whether you hit them.

At PRmoment’s recent PR is Changing conference we heard about brilliant integrated thought leadership from O2, we heard about how the government was using PR to create better value communications and engagement with the public. We also heard about how Barclays is reforming the culture of their organisation because they realise that trust is such an important measure of their business.

Reasons to be optimistic
So please, PR people, lots of you are doing great work, let’s stop this downtrodden self-critical analysis. It’s really very simple, the future is bright for public relations.

Bear in mind the marketing guys are looking at the public relations guys and thinking, “Bloody hell! This guy’s got the ear of the CEO. He gets to spend more time with the CEO than me. It never used to be like this. I keep telling the CEO about my direct mail price per acquisition but she keeps talking about trust and share price.”

The SEO guys are thinking, “Oh dear. I need to become a PR guy. Can anyone here write? And this journalist just told me to piss off! What is a press day anyway? I thought I’d written him a decent article but…”

So PR’s doing just fine. We need to keep learning, be less paranoid and continue to do great work.

But remember, just like any sector, there will be examples of poor work, but mostly the public relations sector is made up of bright, motivated people who know what they are doing and are also keen to learn lots of new stuff.

About the author
ben-smithBen Smith is the founder of PRmoment. He has eight years’ publishing experience working for Archant Media and Haymaket Publications. He then spent three years working in public relations.

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Stephen Waddington

Partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum and Visiting Professor in Practice, Newcastle University.

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