By Junaina Saulat
Apr 24 - 30, 2000
In Pakistan, people still do not understand the PR profession. People
often abuse the term PR as 'Es keh PR bahut achee hai' Far from it PR is not about knowing
the who's who. Its all about media relations, putting your clients key messages across to
the publics and partners, to build and sustain your clients corporate image and to
effectively and efficiently manage a crisis if it occurs.
PR is a profession for the future. As the world becomes a global
village, the role of PR is becoming ever more important. Most people do not know the true
meaning of the profession. It is a profession shrouded in myth, misconception &
The profession demands first and foremost a good communications
strategist, creative thinkers, rigorous implementers and excellent writers. PR is not a
lightweight profession. Depending on how it is approached, PR can be one of the most
intellectually demanding professions. It is a profession in which one must constantly be
developing, refining, and discovering new strategies and tactics to assist one's clients
to communicate effectively to their publics. PR isn't a profession that lends itsself to
mass production. Every client is different and its situations are constantly changing. As
consultants we must respond to those needs with unique and creative solutions that meet
their business objectives.
A Company's ability to influence and shape public opinion about its
products and services is among the most precious assets. In many cases the success and
very survival of a corporation is dependent of the effectiveness of its communications.
Our job in PR is to ensure that the communication asset the goodwill towards a
company is invested wisely.
PR has too often been thought of as a tool for corporate or government
propaganda. The fact is, a good PR Consultancy tells it like it is. A PR firm should never
advise its clients anything that is not entirely accurate. The urge to withhold
information or deceive may be greatest when a company is facing a crisis. However if a
plant just blew up or the company's product is defective, the last thing a company should
do is be vague, misleading or withhold important information. Accuracy in communication is
critical and that's what effective communication is about. A case in point here would be
when Intel got a rude awakening to the Internet in 1994 when a math professor discovered a
flaw in the Pentium microprocessor. Word spread quickly over the Internet, and Intel's
initial denials of the severity of the problem led to howls of protest. The episode was a
"defining moment on how we viewed the Internet, which came around and whacked us on
the head," says Sean Maloney, senior vice president of sales and marketing. But their
PR backing was strong. And now, when Intel finds a bug in a computer chip, it quickly
posts an alert on its Web site, clearly painting the exact picture.
One can do a quick mental exercise; take four big corporations
Coca Cola, Microsoft, General Electric & Intel and if the first thought associated
with each of these names is good hats off to their PR companies. If on the other
hand if you think of the Belgium disaster with Coke last year or the anti-trust case of
Microsoft then their PR consultants are not doing justice to their clients needs.
A PR company cannot work wonders.... Or can it? Corporations often
expect the consultants to work image magic. You cannot fool people and a serious PR
Consultancy would not want to try it. The consultancy can highlight and enhance the
publics perception of a company, but the communication has to be built on reality or the
effort will be doomed to failure in a very short time. Consultants are happy to carry out
a little magic from time to time but that does not include trying to create an image that
doesn't actually reflect the client.
A lot of people are drawn to the profession for the wrong reasons. It
is our job to demystify public relations. The more people understand what we do and why,
the more effectively we can serve our clients and the publics.
At its heart PR is information management and the dawn of the 21st
century the society's life-blood is information. PR will continue to grow in importance as
companies, organizations and governments realize how critical information management is to
The more we can minimize or eliminate the myths, misconceptions and
mystique surrounding PR, the more quickly will the industry develop in response to the
needs of the public and private sector for solid information management.