The end of the line for reputation

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?

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This entry was posted in challenge, Chartered Institute of Public Relations, CIPR, communication, development, PR, work. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to The end of the line for reputation

  1. Interesting, thanks Amanda. My own definition of PR is simply: Pursuing goals through relationships. What do you think?

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    • amandacomms1 says:

      That sounds like a reasonable part of a definition but perhaps pursuing may seem a bit single-minded?

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      • Spencer Fitz-Gibbon says:

        Thanks for replying, Amanda. I’m genuinely keen to test my definition of PR, which I think covers it comprehensively and objectively.
        As for only being *part* of a definition of public relations – can you give us an example of an aspect of public relations work thatfalls outside this definition; i.e. that (a) doesn’t have an objective of any kind, and (b) doesn’t seek to use relationships to pursue that objective?
        Thanks!

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      • amandacomms1 says:

        I see your point but my issue is with ‘pursuing’ which appears to be more about using people to gain the end than really working alongside them. For any service, and mainly public sector services, it has to be collaborative and a partnership.

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  2. As a public sector communicator, the front-line/the service user should always be our primary focus. Always surprises me when in job interviews, my prospective employer feels reputation management is more about protecting their minister/chief exec/principal.

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