Why is PR continuing to be so defensive?

The recent debate over the role of PR within the growing trend of integrated communication sounds like the same stuck record.

The recent debate over the role of PR within the growing trend of integrated communication sounds like the same stuck record.

Let's be under no illusions over what Procter & Gamble's returning CEO AG Lafley – or in fact any CEO – is demanding of their PR and marketing functions: They are looking for everything and they want it now.

By everything, this means sustainable and profitable growth combined with leading brand indicators that demonstrate a high level of stakeholder trust all delivered with budgets that account for a declining share of total revenue. And they are increasingly agnostic about how PR and marketing achieve these results.

The evolution of integrated communications is no longer an academic exercise in organization design: it is a pragmatic response to the reality of global business. Whether it is employees, customers, legislators, or shareholders, the world is connected 24/7 and information flows freely across channels and between stakeholders.

The integration of communications at Nissan did not result in the need for less expertise in PR; quite the reverse. We continue to grow the roles and responsibilities of our PR professionals as we increase the number of multi-channel communication programs. And it is work in progress, evolving constantly to meet the challenges of the business.

I fear this debate over the role of PR in newly integrated communications functions feels like it is coming from a defensive minority still arguing with marketing over issues like who “owns” social media.

Get over it. Move on.

Take on new skills and show the power of outstanding strategic and tactical PR as an integral part of a winning organization. I feel proud of my PR “heritage” but, equally, I feel proud to be part of the future of our discipline.

For PR professionals who seize the opportunity, they will have all the C-Suite exposure they could ever desire.

Simon Sproule is CVP global marketing communications at Nissan Motor Company and director of marketing communications at Renault-Nissan Alliance. He is doing a keynote speech at the PRWeek Conference 'The PESO Principles' in NYC on September 17 on the topic of brands as content producers.

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