PR predictions for 2003

Bill Margaritis, VP of worldwide corporate communications, FedEx

Bill Margaritis, VP of worldwide corporate communications, FedEx

What will be the greatest challenge for the PR industry in 2003? To better demonstrate that the function adds strategic value to business and that it encompasses a broader spectrum of responsibilities - both internal and external. The PR industry suffers from an image problem and a misunderstanding of it's scope, an ironic contradiction of it's sheer existence. It needs to be diligent about reinventing itself because it is primarily viewed as publicity or spin. Having said that, I do think that this past year's corporate malfeasance problems actually proved what many professionals have long believed in that PR is a defacto by-product of management's actions, both in good times and bad times. There are many great success stories in the PR industry that simply either do not get the level of attention of due credit they deserve. The second challenge for PR is to play a bigger role with internal audiences by executing performance-based communications that are fully aligned to business objectives. Now more than ever, companies are making dramatic changes to their business models and they need to get their culture behind the strategy. This requires a deeper, more profound approach to communications, one that invokes behavioral change in support of business initiatives. Will PR increase its relevance to the C-suite in 2003? Yes, to some extent; mostly in those companies that are facing increased risk or scrutiny over their governance, ethics or accounting practices. It's likely to be more the case in defensive situations and less so in offensive situations. Generally speaking, it's always easier to make a case for proactive and strategic PR when companies are facing adverse, crisis proportion situations or hostile challenges. And the companies who truly recognize the function as being an essential, value-added strategic part of the business enterprise, will continue to do so in the years ahead. What will be the big media trend of 2003? As a sector, I believe we will see accelerated consolidation and refinement of media businesses and a more pragmatic approach to online content management. From a populist point of view, it's anyone's guess. "Transparency" was the defining business term of 2002. What will be the defining term for 2003? Credibility - the public as consumers, employees and investors are looking for trust, stability and predictability - a comfort zone with corporate America - particularly given what we've experienced over the last couple of years with stock meltdowns and corporate malfeasance. 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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