Solving public relations PR problem

Posted on 20/11/2018


The world of public relations is changing, the sector’s reputation is under more scrutiny and demographics and consumer behaviour are changing fast.

Yet, many PRs are standing still, not appreciating the change which is upon us.

The Deloitte Millennial Study found a lack of trust in any for profit organisations. Other studies have shown how consumers are putting product quality and ethics on an equal footing.

The PR’s place at the marketing table is being eroded by digital specialists, ad agencies and even management consultants who are all speaking the language of social impact and social value. Procurement increasingly asks for social value to be demonstrated across public and private sector supply chains.

Yet many communicators continue with business as usual. Those that do will be left behind and become obsolete.

We must do more to focus on what really matters – the real impact of our work.

In a post Bell Pottinger world, no PR can shy away from knowing exactly what the social impact and consequences of their work are.

But the good news is that the vast majority of PRs will make a positive social impact through their work.

Celebrating this social impact should become the norm, yet relatively few organisations do this.

That’s why the PR & Communications Association has launched a new definition of the social impact of PR.

The definition reads:

PR and communications has a huge impact on society. It is the responsibility of all practitioners to understand the social impact of PR and be aware of the actions they are taking – in line with the Helsinki Declaration on the ethics of PR and PRCA Code of Conduct.

The PR and communications industry has a social impact in six ways:

1.Through the impact of our campaigns on target audiences

2.Meeting one of more of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, depending on the campaign being developed and implemented

3.Promotion of genuine corporate social responsibility programmes / communications (and an active refusal to engage in greenwashing or astroturfing style campaigns)

4.Encouraging philanthropy and giving

5.“Buying social” and using social enterprises in the supply chain

6.Encouraging workforce diversity through positive employment practices

From PR apprenticeships to working with Social Enterprise UK to “buy social” in the supply chain, PR and communications can have a huge positive impact on society over and above the impact of the work of communicators. It is the responsibility of all practitioners to understand the social impact of PR and be aware of the actions they are taking.

At Campaign Collective, we measure social impact in two ways – the positive impact of our marketing work on society and what we can achieve through investment in our social purpose fund which has resulted in activity like the launch of The Rooftop, a new home for news worth shouting about.

Its time for more organisations to do likewise and report on their social value.

PR and communications professionals can provide feedback on the definition by completing this survey: