Rob Gelphman, a long-time communications executive and Chair, Marketing Work Group, The Multimedia over Coax Alliance wrote a blog post at the CommPRO news hub proclaiming that “marketing communicates a value proposition. Public relations may be doing the talking, but marketing is pulling the strings.”
PR-Bridge readers know that I have long-advocated that we should really be talking about “communications” as an integrated function, working toward organizational goals, rather than quibbling over who owns the leadership role. I had a meaningful conversation with my colleague Bill Sledzik about this at ToughSledding years ago and discussion touching on the same points with James Grunig and others at PRConversations.
Rather than rehashing the main points of those posts, I’ll simply paste by response to Gelphman below and let readers think about this important topic:
Rob, this is a thought-provoking piece, but based on a rather narrow view of public relations. PR isn’t solely media relations. This is a dated view of PR’s value, certainly ignoring the work PR does in other vital “communications” areas, such as internal communications, social media, executive communications, etc.
I would argue that the majority of a PR professional’s work in today’s environment is not directed at the media, but rather the countless other stakeholders critical to an organization.
As such, I don’t think professionals would argue your point, except to say “hey, we’re already doing what you prescribe and have been for decades.” Marketing may be the umbrella term that organizations use to describe nearly all their communications, but its PR and PR’s ability to reach all audiences that show it is already grown, as you wish, “into a total communications function.”
“Marketing” has won the nomenclature battle because execs trained in business schools are more comfortable with that title (particularly given pop culture’s role in pushing PR as a female profession). However, your list of job responsibilities above reads like the kind of things PR practitioners are doing everyday.
The real goal is for all communications-related disciplines to be working toward the organization’s goals and aspirations in unison. It doesn’t matter what the job is called, just that it is integrated. The only way “PR” professionals aren’t already doing all the things you describe about outreach, member retention, etc., is if you limit the definition of PR to media relations.