EDITORIAL: Slowly but surely, the corporate PR community is facilitating the telling of its nuanced stories

Public relations is not an easy industry to cover. Its practitioners, evidently effective at telling their companies' and clients' stories, often either choose to remain in the shadows or lose all powers of effective pitching when it comes to their own press.

Public relations is not an easy industry to cover. Its practitioners, evidently effective at telling their companies' and clients' stories, often either choose to remain in the shadows or lose all powers of effective pitching when it comes to their own press.

I've received many e-mails that read, "You should interview my firm's principal for an article." Thanks for the advice.

Corporate readers ask for more in-depth pieces on in-house teams, including their structures, strategies, leadership, and goals. When asked to shed that light on their own organizations, watch them shy away.

However, that seems to be changing now. During the past few months, we have been talking to two Fortune 100 companies about doing a "special report" on their PR teams. More in-depth than the Corporate Case Study that regularly appears on our pages, these reports would involve reporters spending time within the companies, getting to know how they work with each other, their agencies, and the rest of the company.

We are also working with a CMO who is planning to allow us unprecedented access to his agency review. Such perspective is enjoyed by the advertising trades often enough, but PR reviews have always been ridiculously secretive. Firms may feel as if they have something to fear from this exercise, but it has never been clear what the client stands to lose by being a little more open about the process.

We will continue to find new ways to cover corporate and agency teams and fight the industry's inclination to rely on generalities to tell its nuanced stories. That tendency is apparent throughout the profession, as evidenced by a swath of mediocre PowerPoint presentations and a string of lackluster seminars and conferences. It is possible that our efforts have prompted some companies to lift the lid on their strategies and teams. It is also possible that there is a rising awareness that the benchmarking of best PR practices is not exactly consistent. Perhaps a sense of occupational loyalty is propelling companies to more transparency for the greater good. Whatever the case, the trend is creating opportunities to tell more meaningful stories.

PRWeek corporate survey now underway

PRWeek's annual research studies are another important way for us to better understand what is going on within companies. Our corporate survey is now underway. I hope that all of our in-house readers will take time to answer the questions about their budgets, structure, measurement, and strategy.

This year, we also incorporated some of the questions featured in the PRWeek/MS&L Marketing Management Survey. The questions focus on integrated strategies. The responses will provide useful comparison data against those of marketing executives, which were featured in last week's issue.

Last year, it was clear that in-house teams were under intense pressure and budgets continued to fall from the previous year. Now, as the economy looks stronger and companies seem to be hiring again, it will be interesting to learn what impact that is having on the shape of corporate teams.

To take the survey, log on to www.cyberpulse.com/PRWeek. The survey is completely confidential. A donation will be made to the American Cancer Society for every completed form. The survey will appear in the June 28 issue of PRWeek.

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