Editorial: There’s no room for complacency

Forty-five per cent of companies in the UK top 1,000 believe that PR will become more strategically important than advertising by the year 2000, with a further 38 per cent believing it will have the same importance.

Forty-five per cent of companies in the UK top 1,000 believe that

PR will become more strategically important than advertising by the year

2000, with a further 38 per cent believing it will have the same

importance.



Slightly more believe it will be more important than direct marketing as

well.



At face value this sounds highly encouraging, and the Metrica/Portfolio

survey goes on to reveal that PR budgets are also expected to increase

significantly over the same period.



But the results get two cheers only. This is partly because the survey

respondents were in-house PR managers, whose view of the importance of

PR within their organisations may be coloured by their own hopes. More

importantly, while the findings say something about the pecking order of

various marketing disciplines, they tell us little about the importance

of PR in the boardroom.



At a strategic level, reputation is what matters. Companies are

recognising that reputation is a business asset. But the mechanics of

managing it - whether through advertising, PR, lobbying or direct

marketing - is of secondary importance.



Clearly communications needs a champion at the highest level. And, as BA

chairman Sir Colin Marshall told the recent Hard Commercial Edge of PR

conference, it is the chief executive who should ultimately be the brand

manager for the company. But he or she needs expert advice.



The pressing concern for the PR business is therefore who takes charge

of that process - the PR or corporate affairs director, the marketing

director, or even the human resources director?



For PR people to take up that challenge they will first have to break

out of the mindset which sees PR as a downstream function, instead of a

core management discipline.



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