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Our Biggest Problems

At a loss for a good “PR topic” for this week’s blog, I decided to enlist the help of the internet, specifically, GOOGLE. In the search field I typed, “what's the biggest problem in public relations today,” and hit ENTER.

I clicked on the very first hit that came up…an article by Kevin Allen from almost a year ago, November 2012, from PR DAILY.com entitled, “Study reveals four biggest issues affecting PR professionals.”

Mr. Allen’s article cites “The Cross Cultural Study of Leadership in Public Relations and Communication Management conducted by the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at The University of Alabama” –that’s a mouthful – which reveals “the four biggest issues identified by its global audience” as follows:

• Managing the volume and velocity of information (23.0 percent)
• The role of social media (15.3 percent)
• Improving measurement (12.2 percent)
• Dealing with fast-moving crises (11.9 percent)

Mr. Allen also provides a link to the study itself which is based on the input “nearly 4,500 PR professionals from 23 nations”: http://uanews.ua.edu/2012/11/study-of-trends-in-pr-reveals-digital-gender-generational-shifts-according-to-ua-plank-center/.There also appeared to be differences between younger and older PR professionals when it came to an appreciation of “social responsibility, transparency and diverse cultures,” more appreciation being on the younger than the older side.As I’m over 50, I’d put myself on the “older side” of the equation, but agree with my less experienced PR brethren that we need more transparency, more social responsibility, more respect for other cultures…but I’d say that applies to every industry. Shouldn’t, for example, the oil industry be more transparent about what it’s up to (where are they drilling NOW?), more socially responsible (clean up those spills!) and respect other cultures (whether you’re talking foreign lands or mid-west America, take the time to find out what people really think before you set up shop). As for the four major points, yes, yes, yes, and yes. There are more ways to disseminate information than ever before and the info is flying, fast and furious, and more often than not, not all that factually. Social media appears to be here to stay, but if anyone who honestly has divined a formula to make money off of it for clients is either (1) laying low, (2) was bought out by a big East Coast syndicate (3) was killed off by some big East Coast syndicate or black opps government agency or (3) and this is the most likely, said person doesn’t exist.Improving measurement…well, that’s never changed, that’s been the “Holy Grail” of PR as far back as I can remember. How do you show that what you’re doing in building relationships, creating media interest, orchestrating major events, etc., is translating into whatever it is the client wants, i.e. more customers, more markets, more profits, whatever. And fast-moving crises…well, that’s always been an issue, but is perhaps worse now because, thanks to the aforementioned plethora of ways to disseminate information, crises have gone from fast, to speed of sound fast, to speed of fiber optics fast to warp speed. The good news? It’s very clear that, given this environment, the need for capable PR professionals is needed now more than ever. The bad news? The need for capable PR professionals is needed now more than ever. Just reading this makes me pine for a vacation. That’s all for today.