Is PR just about fluffy stuff?

I was asked a question recently about whether PR can lose its ‘fluffy’ reputation. The reputation I think it refers to is that it is all about softer communication focused around making bosses feel warm and fuzzy about the organisations they lead. That could be a little unfair but I do understand that historically that is the view that many people have had of the whole PR industry.

How wrong they are. Today the world of PR for me is all about financial management, reputation management and operational benefits. If you are working in PR and are not boosting the reputation, income or output of your organisation then you are not doing your job. This means PROs need to have a seat at the management table so that they have a detailed understanding of the DNA of the organisation and are able to influence decision makers. It also means they have to understand the processes that are involved, what it takes for the decision from the CEO to be implemented on the front line.

In my working day PR is about tackling some of the most difficult and challenging subjects to communicate. Colleagues spend their time working on campaigns to highlight issues such as modern slavery, domestic abuse, and child sexual exploitation. The work is about supporting front line policing operations finding ways to help bring offenders to justice and help people feel confident to come forward for help if they are victims.

It is easy to label PR as fluffy or spin without really understanding what modern public relations is all about. For anyone who wants to dismiss it all then I would urge them to spend some time looking at what some organisations are doing, or better still why not ask to go and speak to them about their work. For me PR is definitely not ‘fluffy’ and in the challenging economic climate I don’t think it can be.  Now it is time to redefine what PR is.

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