Monday, August 18, 2008

Reading Response Week 5

I found this weeks reading to be very informative and it actually began to change my perspective about public relations. In the past, I have not taken public relations as a serious an important part of an organisations success. I viewed Public Relations Practitioners as people who merely put together cocktail parties, fancy luncheons and put together biased information to release to the media. This reading immediately began by changing how I perceived Public Relations Practitioners by stating that a "typical public relations department" provides an 185 per cent return on investment. Even more significantly, when the CEO of an organisation supports a "well-performing public relations department" there was a 300% return on investment (Johnston, Zawawi 172).
The chapter continued to say that the amount of return on investment is a function of strategic communication strategies. I had never before seen PR as necessarily a strategic profession, but the steps and outlines of a quality PR strategic plan were not only in depth but quite complicated. For example, key performance indicators (KPI's) are used as measurable indicators of progress (Johnston, Zawawi 177). This quantitative side of PR is far different from the party planning and cocktail hour planners I had previously envisioned. While KPI's may not be the best measurement, PR practitioners recognise this and seek to constantly evaluate the value of their work (Johnston, Zawawi 177).
Other parts of PR strategic planning that surprised me was Lester Potter's "ten-step strategic communication plan" (Johnston, Zawawi 178). This ten-step system is not only involved, but quite complicated and would require a number of skilled and experienced personnel to successfully complete a PR plan. Detailed strategy is clearly a huge part of PR success and it proved to be much more complicated than I originally expected.

2 comments:

Amanda Beardsworth said...

I actually had thought similar things to you before this class. I had always thought of PR as the 'glamorous' job of meeting celebrities and setting up great functions and social events for important people. I think this chapter did a great job (as well as the information in Mealnie Jame's book) of dispelling some of the myths of Public Relations practitioners. This chapter certainly did underline the fact that strategy and strategic planning has a lot to do with how successful an organisation is. I too, found the percents given pretty extraordinary; much more crucial and significant than I imagined PR to be.
One thing I didn't like in the chapter was that it didn't always explain things in detail. For example, the section that explained the KPI's was very vague in my opinion. It did not explain how KPI's are measured and it seemed to breeze by the fact that it was a somewhat inaccurate measurement. While it is a quantifiable measurement, if it is an inaccurate measurement in my opinion it does not really have a purpose
While I agree that chapter 7 dispelled some myths that PR is about celebrities and cocktail parties, I think it did a minimal job of explaining how some of the strategies work in specific situations. I think that the online reading this week, particularly the AMP 2000 olympic torch relay case study did a better job of specifically explaining HOW strategic planning works.

Joshua Blodgett said...

Amanda-

Thanks for your comments. I agree with you in that the discussion of Key Performance Indicators did appear to be quite superficial and I can see where their inaccuracy would do little to garner your faith in them and yet just because they are not wholly accurate does not disprove their worth. If they are nothing but flawed benchmarks that is better than nothing. Aside from a few established laws, even science is a matter of theories and best guesses.