Daniel Rogers: Media obsession still problem for PR heads

The status of the in-house PR chief is on an upward curve, but so is the level of stress. These are key findings from a new insight into the life of the modern comms director, carried out in conjunction with agency Brands2Life.

It shows in-house communicators are slowly but surely throwing off their one-dimensional image as managers of media coverage – and are becoming recognised as guardians of reputation among all sorts of stakeholders. It is particularly reassuring that the consumer of their organisations’ products and services has become the priority audience, showing that PR is being integrated into core objectives.

Slightly more worrying is the inordinate amount of time still being spent on media relations. One suspects this is partly due to comms heads enjoying the interface with journalists – and why not? – and partly due to an enduring attitude of their CEOs that what is written about them, or their company, needs to take immediate priority.

A by-product is that insufficient time and resources are being invested in internal communications. And with talented staff increasingly being the differentiator between organisations, this spells a longer-term problem.
It is this tension between the historic role of the media manager, and tomorrow’s guardian of reputation, that causes today’s comms heads to juggle so many roles and expectations. But the most important thing is that almost half (48 per cent) of CEOs now recognise that comms is mission critical.

The penny that has yet to drop, however, is the power of the blog.

What is written out in cyberspace is still a low priority for many firms, which tend to think ‘we’ll wait until issues are picked up by the important media’. This is failing to see the blogosphere as an early weathervane of consumer opinion. It is also failing to recognise that organisations can use blogs as cheap and highly effective focus groups for new products, initiatives and ideas.

danny.rogers@haynet.com

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