Businesses need long-term PR strategies – CIPR State of the Profession report 2017
The Chartered Institute of Public Relation’s (CIPR) annual barometer of the PR industry in the UK has been published and it reveals that businesses are responding to the challenging media landscape by focussing on strategy.
The CIPR’s State of the Profession 2017 shows a dramatic shift to strategic planning as PR professionals work to ensure they can deliver maximum value to organisations in a world rocked by alternative facts, post-truth and wildly-inaccurate opinion polls.
This shift in focus carries valuable lessons for businesses who need to think beyond the tactics of one-off PR “hits” in the media or online and start thinking about long-term strategies that work towards measurable goals and help to build a connected social community of customers who remain loyal to your brand.
Fighting PR spin and alternative facts
The thrust of the report focuses on a move towards a more professional PR industry, where bespoke qualifications lead to higher standards and better – more measurable – results for business leaders.
Stephen Waddington, partner and chief engagement officer at Ketchum and visiting professor at Newcastle University, suggests this continuing move to higher professional standards is a reaction to the shifting political landscape and the public’s growing disdain for PR “spin” and misinterpreted “facts”.
Drawing on failed predictions for the 2014 UK General Election, the Brexit vote, US elections and Donald Trump’s mastery of feeding a frenzy of falsehoods, Stephen says: “In 2016, messages published to social networks, whether true or false, quickly became accepted wisdom within a community, even if they were nonsense.
“Just how much influence issues like fake news had on the UK referendum and US election is yet to be determined. Whatever the case, it’s beholden on communicators to be honest in their communication. B******t and spin have no place in modern public relations.”
This is a view shared by Robert Phillips, author of the book Trust Me, PR is Dead, who says the PR industry must take responsibility for the post-truth age.
He explains: “It is the angry product of decades of half-truths, spin and naked deceit – piled on social exclusion and justice; crippling austerity; excessive pay ratios; and overall, a nasty disregard for the have-nots.”
The lesson from this is that businesses need to think very carefully about “spinning” the facts or bending the truth in their pursuit of publicity. In an age where all of the information in the world is available at your fingertips, lies and false facts will quickly be exposed and your brand will be damaged.
What does good PR look like?