Reputation has long been a word that is closely linked to both PR and communication activity. Many industry definitions have been focused on protecting and enhancing reputation. But is that really where we should be and in 2017 what is the essence of communication?
I was talking to a group of public sector communicators on a training course last week and some seemed surprised that my definition of the role of communication was about front line service delivery. For me that is where it has to be.
We are all feeling the pinch financially and have to get the most from our budgets. Why would I use my time on things that are nice to do but don’t bring tangible results? As communicators we are in a unique position to be able to see across the whole of the organisation. We can represent the views of users through feedback and make sure communication activity is seen as key to the business development.
For me this is about using tools, techniques and technology to help people access services at the right time in the easiest way. We can use our skills to support operational activity but as public sector communicators it has to be centred on the service user. The experience people have is what drives reputation.
I have a huge concern that being focused on reputation alone will drive us to perverse behaviour. If that is the only outcome we want to achieve then the user is relegated and we distance ourselves from the real issues. Think to yourself if there was a Freedom of Information request about your last media, PR or communication strategy what would it find? What was your aim and how would it be viewed by members of the public?
In 2017 do we have the right definition of the role and purpose of the PR and communication industry?