We wrote the other day about how PR's standing as a communication discipline keeps getting squashed. Here's another example, supplied by Richard Edelman, CEO and president of Edelman, on the Edelman blog. It takes issue with a new book, Marketing 3.0, by Professor Philip Kotler of the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, and two associates, Iwan Setiawan and Hermawan Kartajaya.
Edelman has no problem with the Kotler book identifying a third phase of marketing – after a transaction and then a relationship focus – moving to a collaborative one with stakeholders, employees, partners and consumers. He notes that "The American Marketing Association's definition of marketing in 2008 now calls for 'creating, communicating, delivering offerings that have value for consumers, clients, partners and society at large.'" Fair enough.
But then PR is presented as the antithesis of respectable collaboration, or as a "blocking dummy," in Edelman's words. Quotes like "We have observed that many companies undertake socially responsible actions as public relations gestures..." apparently permeate the Kotler book.
Public relations isn't a gesture, it's a client-enabling discipline, a means of becoming validly successful in the marketplace, just as marketing is a means of prospering there. Certainly, be relational and collaborative, but don't argue that public relations is a perversion of those terms. We couldn't agree more as Edelman takes Kotler and his associates to task for apparently doing just that.
We're getting tired of being squashed, and expect to continue with this squash court as we find more examples of the abuse of public relations as a communication discipline.
Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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