EDITORIAL: PR does not need a Super Bowl-type event in order to demonstrate its marketing prowess

Advertising professionals are so lucky to have something like the Super Bowl to cling to each year. The giant price tags, the marquee clients, the day-after analysis on every news show of the highlights and low-lights of the evening. All of it combines to turn one of the year's biggest sports event into an orgy of self-congratulatory creative. Even in the down years - when spots go for fewer dollars and that year's new beer commercial gets panned - the buzz is palpable.

Advertising professionals are so lucky to have something like the Super Bowl to cling to each year. The giant price tags, the marquee clients, the day-after analysis on every news show of the highlights and low-lights of the evening. All of it combines to turn one of the year's biggest sports event into an orgy of self-congratulatory creative. Even in the down years - when spots go for fewer dollars and that year's new beer commercial gets panned - the buzz is palpable.

PR has no comparable experience. Of course, there is PR behind every great Super Bowl ad campaign (when the companies are sufficiently enlightened to understand the value of integrated marketing), and PRWeek readers have often enjoyed a game of "how would I spend that budget on a PR campaign instead?" But let's face it; the Super Bowl ultimately belongs to the advertising people. I suggest that PR not seek its own Super Bowl, in spite of its obvious, visceral appeal. As PR continues to assert its authority in the marketing mix, and in the C-suite, it must remain focused on value - both for the internal as well as the external client. Moreover, it must continue to reflect one of the greatest virtues that PR has - that it is the organization's message that's important, not specifically the messenger. A similar ideal is rather lost in the hubbub of the ego parade that we witness each January. Public Affairs Council marks its 50th anniversary According to the redoubtable Wes Pedersen, "In the 1950s, public affairs was a blank slate. The Public Affairs Council was the catalyst for dramatic change." Well, as director of communications for the Council, he would say that, wouldn't he? But it is fitting to mark the organization's 50th anniversary, as it provides a convenient context to examine the evolution of corporate public affairs and the Council's role in that development. Created in 1954 at the urging of President Eisenhower, the organization was originally called the Effective Citizens Organization. It included former Presidents and statesmen among its ranks, according to current president Doug Pinkham. "It was created to look at improving the way business and government worked together," he said. "As we got into the 1960s, we morphed into a professional services organization and started doing seminars on best practices." Council archives report that in 1954 no major corporation had a public affairs program, but within 10 years, 350 companies had implemented them. Now the Council alone has some 550 member organizations. But what is really interesting is that the Council has long made a focus on integrated communications its watchword. "It's something we've always talked about, and something we teach," Pinkham said. "We try and emphasize how public affairs fits into managing reputation, as well as advancing any policy agenda." Still, we don't hear too much from the Council for the most part. A low profile seems to be the rule. "When I first started the job, I asked what our media relations strategy was," Pinkham recalled. "I was told 'avoidance.'"

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Register
Already registered?
Sign in

Would you like to post a comment?

Please Sign in or register.