A rather long, threaded discussion at MyRagan carries on the debate between the Strumpette and ToughSledding that had a brief stop here recently (Does PR have a Future?). It combines ethics, the role of PR and social media in a fast paced debate.
At PR Conversations another fascinating discussion considers the ultimate purpose of PR. As well as relationship management, it looks at a support versus strategic role with a call for synthesis rather than integration between PR and marketing functions.
GoodGreenPR offers another direction in looking at social marketing which is distinguished from PR as it is not about organisational reputation (or relationships) but involves using concepts and techniques to ‘achieve specific social goals for a social good.’
Although this separates PR from persuasion, social marketing acknowledges the fact that the techniques and tools traditionally employed by PR can be put to different uses. But aren’t claims that one application is more ethical or virtuous than another disingenuous? Who determines what social good involves? Isn’t that at the heart of the Strumpette’s criticism about PR’s partisan role in building relationships? Is ToughSledding happy to dismiss social marketing as the work of PR’s “evil twin”?
David Phillips offers a similar challenge for PR practitioners in optimising relationships. He advocates a rethink of the management skills required by those in PR to “execute complex communication systems which includes a high level of uncertainty and change.”
This acknowledges PR’s role in internet mediated communications, in terms of the public’s “capability to participate in the relationship dynamic”. He is calling for understanding of uncertainty management and risk management.
There are lots of dimensions and directions to consider here – which only goes to show what a great learning resource is provided online totally free of charge. Not long ago, those interested in the profession and study public relations could only have read such opinions in fairly dry academic journals or by signing up for courses or conferences at great expense.
Today, this high level debate is available to all – and even better, students, academics and practitioners can add in their own reflections. This makes the profession come to life and enables everyone to contribute towards discussions.
That has to be to the benefit of the profession, regardless of what criticisms and challenges are being aired.
[Thanks as ever to Judy Gombita for pointing out some of these sources to me]