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January 12, 2016
Aspire to Higher: Benchmarks for PR Pros in 2016
Much continues to be penned on the role of public relations and how the field has changed over the years. It is a subject of lively discussion as popular as “what came first, the chicken or the egg?” Everyone has an opinion on who is the lead dog in the race for hearts and minds in the reputation game in the 21st century. Is it PR, marketing, advertising, or some other function? And what does 2016 hold for the field and for public relations pros?

Public relations, for the foreseeable future, is essential to building trust with people who have a vital stake in an organization’s operations and success. Public relations is critical to fulfilling an organization’s missions and responsibilities. Public relations is the conscience in the board room, and if you don’t believe that, fasten your seatbelt — the ride will be rocky.

The fact is, PR is all about building and sustaining relationships — “always has, always will.” The demand for public relations professionals has never been better and 2016 will likely accelerate the need for folks who are “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Here are some of the most powerful characteristics successful professionals will need to be going forward.

PR professionals are activists, seeking to engage, enlighten, and energize an organization’s constituents. PR practitioners are not gatekeepers between their companies and the media.

PR professionals advocate not just for their organizations, but also for their organization’s constituents and stakeholders, which adds the important role of presenting the stakeholders’ interests and views to management. It is all about representing all those with a stake and making them understand their inherent obligations.

PR practitioners are strategic content developers and storytellers, helping their organizations formulate key messages that resonate with stakeholders and are coherent with the corporate culture and nature of the organization.

PR practitioners help an organization build mutual trust by encouraging and fostering transparency and integrity throughout the organization.

PR practitioners are counselors who actively advise and guide organizations in honestly communicating and behaving in the best interests of society and its constituents, such as customers, employees, shareholders, and the communities in which they operate.

PR professionals are enablers and connectors, helping organizations stay grounded, stay human, and stay sensitive to the needs and desires of their communities. In essence, the role of today’s public relations practitioner is akin to being the conscience of the organization, being ever vigilant to ensuring that the organization is “doing the right thing” and not just saying the right things.

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Gerry Corbett is the PRJobCoach at prjobcoach.com and CEO of Redphlag LLC, a strategy consultancy. He has served four decades in senior communications roles at Fortune 100 firms and earlier in his career in aerospace and computer engineering with NASA. He has a B.A. in public relations from San Jose State University and is a member of the International Advertising Association, National Investor Relations Institute; Arthur Page Society, National Association of Science Writers, and International Coaching Federation.

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