Sunday, May 18, 2014

Public Relations: A sunset industry ...

In one of my earlier post, I talked about the death of the Public Relations agency and the rise of the social media consultancy. After my recent conversation with the head of a government corporate communications division, I am even more convinced.

During our conversation, the issue of crisis communications came up and I shared with him a crisis communications framework which CW Fong & Associates had developed based on academic research and refined via real world application. Before I could even finish explaining the framework, I was brushed aside with the comment that he had no time for theory.

I responded by asking how then did his division manage crisis and his was "based on experience". I then explained that while experience was good, there were two major issues with such an approach. Firstly, experience only helps if you had previously managed a similar incident and learnt from it. What about new incidences? How useful would experience be in unfamiliar incidences? Secondly, without a framework, how would you know what went well and what went wrong? By managing incidences by the seat of your pants, the organization does not learn and hence does not improve on its ability to deal with crisis. Needless to say, our conversation was cut short and I was shown the door rather quickly.

I have said this before and I will say this again. Corporate Communications or PR is dying simply because the pinnacle appointments are being held by dinosaurs. And just like their name sakes, these PR directors will soon become extinct as they simply refuse to accept the fact that communications has changed and that they are ill-equipped to manage it in the new information environment. Rejecting new ideas does not make it less true. Just like continuously repeating that the sky is green, will not make the sky less blue or the fact that the sky is not green.

In my opinion, the sorry state of our government's popularity among the electorate is not from a lack of trying to serve the people. The sorry state is caused by the fact that government leaders have not replaced the dinosaurs with people who know how to communicate in the new information environment.

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