what a strategic public relations leader does


For the past several weeks, we’ve spoken about and practiced a little of what a strategic public relations leader does. This week’s discussion and reading (chapter 9) takes a little different focus. On page 98 of your text, the summary begins with, “What this chapter has sought to demonstrate is that having superior knowledge and consummate skill is not enough to be a public relations leader.”

I’ve often wondered what would happen if I fell asleep for 50 years, woke up and went to a meeting of “PR professionals.” I bet they still would be complaining about how they can’t get any respect from their organization and leadership. My perspective is that I’ve been in PR for 45 years and the question hasn’t changed.

Why not?

Perhaps it’s because those people haven’t read the text. Or, that they are operating at a tactics level rather than an organizational leadership level. We tend to get the respect we’ve earned.

Go to page 87 of your text (bottom of the page) … “there are four other factors that gain respect and organizational influence” your books speaks about to help prepare senior professionals for higher-level roles. I also like the Danny Moss model of a senior public relations manager:

Monitor and advisor

Key policy and strategy adviser

Issues management expert

Troubleshooting/problem solver.

I could add more lists that your book has related to senior leaders. And when I think about this, the senior public relations leader needs to have a lot of organizational (both internal and external) knowledge – almost the same as the chief executive. And perhaps if we operated at that level, there would be more PR leaders in the “front corner.”

Can you do a pro forma income statement for public relations? I bet the marketing leaders can. Do you know and can you articulate the legal implications of your media statement? And so on. Aware of policies and their imact?

For the past several weeks, I’ve given you projects/papers to position you in an organizational leadership position. You’ve thought at a higher public relations level. You’ve responded well. Environmental scans. Codes of conduct. Ethics statements. Mission statements. Even job descriptions. You can do all of these leadership things.

The Assignment

While I realize that we may not be able to begin at the level I’ve discussed – we have to pay our dues – that doesn’t stop us from thinking about what kind of a leader we would be. Or, if we had a choice, for what kind of a leader we would want to work. Certainly public relations knowledge would be part of the equation, but what else? Your book talks about how good practitioners may not be good senior leaders. Just what makes a good senior leader? Think about this. It just might be a bit aspirational. And that’s okay.

Finally, I’m reminded of my former job in telecommunications where we would promote a good craftsperson into management. We didn’t always get a good first -level supervisor but we always lost a good craftsperson. Why is one person a good technician but not a good leader?

Give me a few pages on what kind of person you want to lead and work for in the public relation department. Tell me why. And, if you have examples, great. Keep in mind hat PR is only part of the equation.

Good luck



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