Once again the issue of PR as a strategic management function has been raised this time in the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) State of the Profession 2018 report published today.
The report says
“Senior representation for the PR function matters to practitioners; respondents consider that under-representation of public relations practitioners at board level is the biggest challenge facing the industry”
I am going to say something that may be seen as quite controversial now – we have to get over this issue of being strategic because the more we raise concerns the further we can move away from a seat in the boardroom. The report adds that practitioners believe that organisations are systematically undervaluing the PR function by a lack of access to the boardroom.
But have we equipped ourselves sufficiently to take up a seat in the boardroom? Do we know about the operation of the business? Can we talk about the frontline activity and see how it relates to the strategic direction of the organisation? Do we have business skills? In short have we earned the position or are we just waiting for it to happen?
For me you cannot expect to have that position in the top table until you have proved that you not only know communication and PR but you understand the operation of the business. It is the blend of the two for me that will ensure you have the ear of those at the top. I am pleased to see that the report recognises that “senior practitioners need to build their business acumen to break through beyond PR”.
The starting point has to be spending time on the frontline and in many aspects of the business. Know how A relates to B and C and D happen so that you can talk convincingly about the nuts and bolts of work. You can then start to make the links to PR and communication activity and show the direct impact that it can have on those business processes.
In 2018 it is time to stop talking about it or even being seen to be moaning about it. Instead we now have to prove what we can do, learn, develop and talk as though we are already in that boardroom. Don’t wait for someone to wave a magic wand and make it happen show that you are ready to operate at the top level of the business. If we do that then we can demonstrate our value and finally move on from this discussion to then drive the industry forward.