The public relations industry is struggling to visualise what it sees in the mirror in the changing media landscape. It’s having an identity crisis, says futurist Ross Dawson, and with that, sees it lack confidence in showcasing its capabilities to clients.
“Advertising is about having the answers. So that breeds a particular type of person and personality and interaction with a client,” Dawson told B&T.
“PR people don’t put themselves forward enough. They have the capabilities, but they don’t necessarily, aren’t necessarily strong enough, in being able to present those capabilities for the client.”
Advertising arguably has a large amount of ego in it, said Dawson, and PR doesn’t necessarily lend itself to that kind of individual.
“There’s a reality there is an arrogance associated within the advertising industry, an assumption of arrogance, which is very different to that of the PR profession,” he said.
“In categorising them, the advertising people believe they know it all, they position themselves in having the answers to give to the clients, so that’s why the client hires them.
“Whereas the PR industry is more around relationships. They don’t tend to be as arrogant.”
Dawson said it’s meant clients perceive PR to be a form of just media relations and getting the word out there, as opposed to turning to the PR professionals to help.
He added PR professionals can have the capabilities to communicate through everyone and be the gel between agencies and clients.
However, PR firms need to make sure they’re actually doing this.
“It has the potential to be [the gel],” he said. “And I think that arguably other disciplines are also well equipped to play that. It comes to PR professionals and PR firms enabling, first having the capabilities, but also putting themselves forward and actually playing that role of being able to help coordinate the bigger picture.”
However, he reiterated that he doesn’t suggest PR firms are necessarily the best ones to do this.
“But I think in general, they tend to have a broader view of the ways in which the customer’s are impacted.”