Can we blame PR’s poor reputation on an increased focus on promotional communications for competitive differentiation (the reductionist view of PR as solely a subset of marketing)?
As a tactical function, PR is reduced to generating “free advertising”. That means evaluation ranges from calculating advertising value equivalent (AVE) to demands to prove return on investment in terms of sales generated from media coverage.
At the other end, those championing PR as a strategic management function seek to distance themselves from the press agents. But in doing so, aren’t they ignoring PR’s proven ability to achieve marketing objectives, either alone or as part of an integrated approach?
I’m not sure PR folks can blame marketing entirely, or that PR ever needed marketing’s help to sully our rep. But it’s making for some interesting commentary.
Part of the problem for PR practitioners, methinks, has to do with the fact that many of them come to the business from journalism. Since many journalists — not all, but many — enter the craft with a moralistic sense that they are on a crusade to speak truth to power, when they enter the PR side, they experience some cognitive dissonance. They (we) still want to present the truth, but now they’re doing so from a different perspective: as representatives of organizations or institutions that may not share those same moralistic values that drove the PR person toward a journalism career in the first place.
Maybe PR folks should just get used to the fact that we’re in the marketing business.
After all, how many times do you hear marketing people complain that PR is tainting their image?