Platform: Unleashing the power of the PR professionals - If the PR culture is to mature all employees need to be encouraged to share their expertise and develop their skills, says Ron Dyson

Public relations is a highly-charged business. It’s volatile, imprecise and immediate. It’s also an immature and broad-based business requiring a combination of widely differing skills and expertise.

Public relations is a highly-charged business. It’s volatile,

imprecise and immediate. It’s also an immature and broad-based business

requiring a combination of widely differing skills and expertise.



Rarely do we find such skills within a single person and, invariably,

our challenge is to create a blend of talent within a team of

executives.



Unfortunately, it is not a challenge the profession has tackled

effectively and serious weaknesses have come to the surface in recent

years.



Surprisingly, the profession is continuing to resist the flexibility

demanded by fast-moving businesses. Rapid expansion and the high profile

nature of our work has created an ego culture that is now threatening to

strangle many consultancies.



Such a culture has fuelled a title-driven mentality akin to the

structure of the civil service or the functional disciplines of a major

corporation.



We could laugh at our naivete if only it hadn’t had such a dramatic

impact.



The threat of an executive moving to a new consultancy, the fear of

promotion prospects at other consultancies and the use of titles for

personal appeasement, is not a sign of confidence and is hardly a

demonstration of considered judgement. The consequence of such naive

management is a plethora of inexperienced, and often inept, ’account

directors’, as well as a woeful lack of managerial skills among those

charged with account management responsibilities.



Few professions offer as much potential for personal expression and

original thinking as PR. However, the power base of any executive lies

with his/her clients. All too often, we see autocratic delegation and

fierce protection of client relationships at the expense of involving

and coaching other more junior, but potentially more talented,

executives in the planning and execution of client work.



The result is predictable. Younger executives see no way forward and

prematurely move on to another appointment, with the added attraction of

a fancier title, and so the story unfolds. It’s crass nonsense and

little more than self-destruction for the individual and the team as a

whole.



The onus on consultancy heads must be to create an environment where

clients can readily access specific expertise within a team, and where

individuals are given real scope and opportunity to succeed through

personal development, professional fulfilment and dynamism. Conforming

to the restrictions of hierarchical structures is a major weakness that

has led to the two-year employment cycle and continued dilution of

executive talent caused by agency breakaways and an ever-expanding raft

of freelancers.



We’ve trialled a new culture at one of our offices, using the services

of an external human resources consultant to ensure the views and

personal drive of every member of staff is taken into account. A year

later, the feedback from clients and staff suggests we are moving in the

right direction and the signs are hugely encouraging. Gone are the

titles, gone are the petty jealousies, gone are the restrictions and

gone are the barriers for personal and collective development.



Our new approach has given us the flexibility to cope with growth,

created real opportunities for career enhancement and prompted a greater

sharing of skills and expertise where coaching, support and direction

are encouraged at all times.



Ron Dyson is group managing director of McCann-Erickson Public

Relations.



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.