PR predictions for 2003

Helen Ostrowski, CEO, Porter Novelli

Helen Ostrowski, CEO, Porter Novelli

What will be the greatest challenge for the PR industry in 2003? Probably our greatest challenge (which isn't just a 2003 challenge, frankly) will be to demonstrate the value of public relations to business. Ours is a powerful discipline, but we need to do a far better job of articulating how we can truly enhance business success short- and long-term. Pressure on public relations budgets and demand for "ROI" are just some of the trends that point to questions about the value that public relations brings. Will PR increase its relevance to the C-suite in 2003? All signs point to the need for someone to be able to help the C-Suite with reputation issues. As the only profession that understands stakeholder needs and how they impact corporate actions and behavior, that someone should be us. The question we have to ask ourselves when we look in the mirror is: are we truly at the table when the business decisions that ultimately affect reputation are made? Or are we in danger of being usurped by other disciplines such as legal counsel? The issue isn't just about us, however; it is really about how corporations need to change if they are go successfully navigate through a completely new (and far more public) business environment. What will be the big media trend of 2003? First and foremost, media fascination with corporate governance, corporate compensation and corporate accountability will continue. The press had way too much fun with Jack Welch, Bernie Ebbers and Jeffrey Skilling to let it go, and now that many reporters are mastering the finer points of business ethics, financial reporting and the like, they're certainly not going to let all that learning go to waste! Look for much greater media scrutiny of financial statements and verification of truthfulness - and a lot more skepticism about the celebrity CEO. A second big trend is likely to be the 'race for space'-greater competition among PR staff for space/time, given the financial pressures on media companies and the consolidation that has occurred in recent years. These pressures are also likely to lead to more repackaging by the media of old stuff, reruns, and less original programming. "Transparency" was the defining business term of 2002. What will be the defining term for 2003? Authenticity. Are you the 'real thing?' Will you give me the straight scoop - good or bad? Do you act with purpose, integrity and from a sense of your values - or is it all just 'talk'? This is all by way of saying that much more attention will be paid to what people do not what they say, and that's where public relations needs to stand up and be counted. We're not only communicators. Click on any of the names below to see their 2003 PR predictions: Reed Byrum, president and CEO, PRSA Steve Cody, managing partner, PepperCom Andy Cunningham, CEO, Citigate Cunningham Ofield Dukes, president, Ofield Dukes & Associates Peter Gardiner, partner & chief media officer, Deutsch Inc. Harvey Greisman, VP of communications, IBM Global Services Fred Haberman, president, Haberman & Associates Andy Lark, VP, global communications & marketing, Sun Microsystems Bill Margaritis, VP of worldwide corporate communications, FedEx Helen Ostrowski, CEO, Porter Novelli Doug Pinkham, president, Public Affairs Council Harlan Teller, chief client officer and president, worldwide corporate practice, Hill & Knowlton Mark Weiner, CEO, Delahaye Medialink

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