The ongoing sea change in the media and influencer landscape has fundamentally changed our responsibilities as public affairs pros. And with brand perception now shaped by myriad influences, we play a more significant role as protectors and defenders of brand reputation.
Another key conversation must take place around how we approach our roles. To fully contribute to the success of the organizations we represent, we must shift the perception of our roles to that of strategic business partners.
But there are legacy perceptions. Our function is seen as a service organization whose primary role is solving thorny media problems or maximizing good news and market opportunities through a quick press release, a one-time push to "get news out" and move on.
In a world where a lifetime's worth of brand equity can be wiped out in a single weekend's negative news cycle, it is critical to use a variety of communication channels to holistically and strategically inform conversations, contextualize a brand, and drive business outcomes. Meaningful engagement is required to increase trust, build deeper communities, and drive real commercial success.
We know this intellectually, but daily work puts our teams and those supporting us in the position of staffing a "PR drive-through window." We must resist the easy path of order fulfillment and en- gage business leaders in a more meaningful dialogue about goals.
As Bob Sugar said in Jerry Maguire, "It's not show 'friends,' it's show 'business.'" We're constantly presented with opportunities and problems, but we live our brands' public perception, so we can iden- tify opportunities and challenges before the rest of the enterprise.
We have an obligation to our organizations and profession to focus on outcomes that tangibly impact business results. We must have - and earn - a seat at the table when business decisions and policies are made. We must be vocal when an idea that might provide short-term gain can prove harmful or cause long-term reputational issues. And we must ensure actions match words and authenticity and that transparency is constant in all communications, through all channels.
When the dynamic at hand is one of strategic partnership, our jobs are more challenging, interesting, and conducive to us contributing to the organizations where we apply our craft. l
Corey duBrowa is VP of global communications at Starbucks.