Amith Prabhu: PR is not changing. We are!

24 Aug,2015

By Amith Prabhu


Last week I was at a PR conference on the theme “PR is Changing”. There were some interesting insights shared. However, the most catchy insight was what got shared towards the end of the conference which caught my attention. A stalwart of the profession after hearing what all the co panelists had said declared that nothing is going to change. He was so right! Public Relations has been around from time immemorial. It has been called different things. It has evolved but it really has not changed.


Some tools have got added, some have become obsolete. The mediums have changed. Professionalism has increased. The bottomline is that the core of Public Relations, which is engaging and communicating to influence behavior has remained fundamentally the same. So in sum, Public Relations is not changing. One can argue that Change is the only constant. Indeed, we have seen so much change in the last decade.


The number of magazines have increased with super specialty. TV channels have grown manifold. Digital has become mainstay. Mobile has become the primary screen. Generational shifts have taken place.


Most interestingly, after years of discussion and debate, there is no fix on the Measurement Dilemma in Public Relations. This has nothing to do whether Public Relations has changed or not. We have changed and in the process forgotten to put in place written briefs with clear measurable parameters.


Content marketing has always been a part of Public Relations. Plain vanilla media releases have transformed into infographics, listicles and native advertising. But we think Public Relations has changed. Social media has changed the way content is absorbed. It is yet another medium to communicate in addition to the legacy mediums of print, television and radio.


Most of all the education avenues of PR professionals and the events for the fraternity have increased. The change is merely cosmetic and in the ‘how’. The ‘what’ remains the same. However, my biggest concern is that PR is not doing enough PR for itself.


Several people in the profession are still confused about the very nature of what they do. What has not changed is the nomenclature of terms used ranging from corporate affairs to public affairs to strategic communications to reputation management to marketing communications to corporate communications to external relations to brand communications. Only when there is complete clarity among the fraternity on what each term stands for, we can say PR is Changing. That is unlikely to happen in the foreseeable future. Until then only we will keep changing, Public Relations will not.



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