At the risk of confusing - and possibly irritating - many of my existing associates and former colleagues, I hereby declare that: 'Public Relations is dead, long live public relations'.
Extensive research and reading related to reputation management, communication strategy, corporate social responsibility, public relations, organizational change and customer service, leads me to the conclusion that the role of the 'traditional PR' is in terminal decline.
It isn't because practitioners are not passionate about their trade - in my experience - they mostly are. It's just that the industry has been leapfrogged by social media and the public's insatiable appetite for transparency, truth and accountability, to such an extent that the old rule book of 'receive, react, respond' is redundant and needs to be shredded beyond recognition.
Some of the 'old guard' in the business can bury their head in the sand and perhaps squeeze out a few more years convincing clients that 'command and control' communication practices are still relevant, but for many others, the writing is clearly on the wall. Cue Darwin: 'adapt or die'.
The debate on PR's demise is not new. There's been plenty of commentary about it online, bolstered by the thoughts of industry stalwarts like ex-Edelman EMEA president and CEO Robert Phillips who wrote about it in his book, 'Trust Me, PR is Dead'.
Along with Phillips', there are many theories on how to 'fix' PR, including a very interesting insight by a working PR consultant from a few years ago, but still relevant.
My own 'solution' is simple and actionable: the 'new' PR should be about better collaboration within an organisation and dismantling the smoke-and-mirrors, jiggery-pokery, 'polishing-turds' approach that is so beloved of some PRs.
There should be no 'walled garden' within which communication teams reside. Other staff members don't stop thinking about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram when they get into work to do a 'non-communication' job.
Wake up, PRs - we're all communicators. We've always been.
Yes, everyone. Even the cleaner, security guard and admin assistant that people routinely ignore.
Every part of an organisation's operation is a potential area to strengthen or weaken its reputation, so the essential role of anyone with a public relations title is to act as cheerleader, coach, consultant, 'connector'and 'conversation starter'.
Rather than operating in a silo, a brave new world of public relations would spot when and where a company's external communication is not matched by the behaviour of its employees or the customer experience. Any 'conflicts' could lead to either the message being modified or counterproductive working practices reviewed.
Working on either will result in greater trust internally and externally and significantly contribute to a better reputation.
After all, in the age of social media, reputation is far too important to leave just to public relations people.
Take a look at today's SlideShare presentation from communication consultant Natascha de Waal who advances some compelling examples of the differences between reputation and trust and how communication and PR is no longer enough.
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.