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#YoungPR: Public Relations Through The Eyes of A Lecturer...

Blog post   •   Jan 21, 2016 10:19 GMT

Simon Collister is a Senior Lecturer at the London College of Comms. With over 12 years in PR, Simon's experiences span across traditional media relations and policy/parliamentary roles for NGOs, digital communications for global brands and government, teaching and researching.

To kick-start our #YoungPR project, we caught up with the London-based lecturer to get his thoughts on how PR has evolved and what it means for young PRs who are entering the industry...

PR faces challenging times...

The major change for me has been the growth in digital communications and the opportunities - but mostly challenges that this has brought to PR. True, we can communicate more effectively, make our brands and organisations more open, and create engaged communities of customers or stakeholders, but I’m not sure how much I see this happening in PR teams/agencies. Advertising and other digital specialist agencies have really embraced this transformation in communications and I truly believe that this poses a serious threat to the future of PR.

The PR industry needs to grow up... 

PR should be a strategic business function that helps an organisation understand the ways the external world might impact on long-term business strategy and adapt accordingly. The adaption might involve a media relations campaign but it equally might mean some other tactical activity. This is partly why PR has such a challenging future: other marketing sectors, e.g. advertising, SEO, digital marketing, are eating PR’s breakfast and the likes of management consultancies, advising on digital business transformation, are eating PR’s lunch too! The industry seriously needs to grow up.

Metrics need to be bespoke...

The metrics you choose to look at should entirely depend on what success looks like for your organisation. Metrics should always be bespoke to answer your objectives. But they should always focused ultimately on organisational impact or outcomes of PR activity.

#YoungPRs need to realise the realities of PR...

Good students get good jobs, or at least - from experience - they face less of a challenge in finding employment than other students. One challenge that I think our students face is that having been schooled in doing the 'right thing', they sometimes face the more pragmatic reality of a busy PR agency where things might not always be done according to theory or best practice. Not having clear objectives when we have drilled into them to always set SMART objectives; clear outcome focused evaluation, etc.

Final words of PR wisdom...

Always do what you know is the right thing to do. If your agency/boss doesn’t want to do it then carry on but keep an eye on who else is out there doing it better. And look to other sectors which might be doing PR but with a different name - these might just be around in 10 years where PR isn’t!


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