I am going to stir up the ‘PR is dead’ debate once again. When I started out I just wanted to be a publicist. I wasn’t in it for the money, I was in it for the purpose and value, and then the vocation developed and I built a brand from my passion. Yet these days the same old question resonates.
Is it still about the craft or about the bottom line? Let me say at this juncture there is nothing wrong with making healthy profits. Nevertheless I am wondering whether PR can move forward properly this year, or will the craft go backwards? Who is willing to truly exploit the power of data and social and how? Because it must not be an exploitative grab for cash.
Reaction looks back and creation looks forward. Real influence should be measured in change. As we roll into 2015, this is what I recommend we all try to remember. This is the age of consumption, which means absorption is lost. Yet the time for absorption is where the real insights and innovation begin.
PR leaders must recognise the need for a better purpose and improved trust and understanding from their clients and staff. For too long we have been focused on scale, numbers and rankings. "How many eyeballs, how big is the audience, how many likes, friends, followers, how many hits?" This is a game it is difficult to win so let’s now search out the more meaningful.
It is exciting to witness the PR industry’s progress, helped by data and a greater grip of the complexity and opportunity digital presents. Yet still the debate rages over the true purpose and power of PR. More agencies are spawning all the time, yet few truly focus on the higher purpose. We should focus on the personality of a business and not stick to industry cliches.
What’s happened to balance and purpose? Why don’t we encourage an input mentality over an output-driven one, and a renewed appetite for curiosity and vision? Those who believe they know the answer more than likely don’t and this is where trust and sharing knowledge comes into working partnerships.
It is not about the credentials deck; we need empathy in our working relationships because while experience is reassuring, authenticity, the truth and confidence will always work better than a vast showcase of history. Past experience can close minds and history blunts expectation and prompts repetition.
We need new insights, imagination, smarter thinking and inspiration to a higher purpose more that we ever did. Yet too often, we’re still more preoccupied with useful things for ourselves – recognition, growing our companies and profits – rather than useful things for the world we live in.
Strong and successful leaders should be looking to achieve improvements, progress, quantum leaps, purpose, empathy and happiness. That’s not forgetting rewards for the organisation or individual involved, and hopefully all of us. Because those will naturally follow, and this is a world of opportunity.
Let me leave you with Rachel Naomi Remen’s aphorism: "Perhaps the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company."
Mark Borkowski is the founder of Borkowski.do