It has been a gratifying experience serving as the chair of the Council of Public Relations Firms during a year of surging industrywide growth and optimism.
It is clear that the PR business is quite healthy and that we are indeed working in an exciting and prosperous time.
The most recent evidence of this appears in the December issue of The Advertiser, the magazine of the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). The article, "PR steals the spotlight," reports that PR is becoming an essential part of the marketing mix at many of the world's biggest companies. The piece was inspired by the Council's case-based panel discussion at the ANA's integrated marketing conference in June.
The article states that "... public relations has taken a considerably more prominent place at the big table as an increasing number of marketers are recognizing the discipline's value and contributions as a brand-building tool." It goes on to report that "marketing executives say that PR relates more effectively to the current fragmented media environment than do other disciplines."
This story clearly shows that marketers have grasped the importance of PR in a significant way. One marketing consultant quoted put it this way: "The honest truth is that I can't think of a situation in which I would not recommend PR to a client... it's a very valuable tool."
The smartest companies know the advantages of creating an effective integrated team. I strongly believe that those companies that put PR in the central role will be more successful than those that don't.
Articles like "PR Steals the Spotlight" - and there have been other noteworthy and similarly themed pieces published throughout the year - not only identify the increased opportunities for PR, but should also serve as motivation for the profession to further solidify the role PR will have in the businesses of tomorrow.
Council Highlights for 2006
Being advocates for the PR business is one of the top missions of the Council; agency management is the other. Through the contributions of the Council's board, committees, and our 100-plus members, this was an exceptionally strong year with many notable accomplishments, including:
Introducing an Issues Monitoring Report, a multi-firm collaboration that will keep members abreast of developing issues.
Publishing "Assessing the Agency's Performance: Guidelines for Formal Client Reviews," a best practices document.
Updating the "Statement of Principles" to include specific language related to word of mouth and social media.
Providing more specific guidance to members and clients on conflicts of interest.
Launching "Buzz Board," an online community site for members.
Offering members proprietary training sessions and tools for ethical business decision-making.
Throughout the year, I have been consistently impressed by the commitment of our board, the committees, and Council members in general, who have shown incredible passion for our business - and I would like to thank all of them for their service to our industry. I look forward to working with next year's chair, Marcia Silverman, CEO of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, and the rest of our membership to build on the important work accomplished this year.
Helen Ostrowski is CEO of Porter Novelli and served as the 2006 chair of the Council of Public Relations Firms.
The Council is dedicated to strengthening the recognition and role of PR firms in corporate strategy, business performance, and social education, serving as an authoritative source of information and expert comment and helping set standards for the PR industry. For more information, call 1-877-PRFIRMS or visit our Web site at www. prfirms.org. The Advertiser article is also available for download at the Council Web site.
This column is contributed and paid for by the Council of PR Firms.