- ACCOUNTABILITY IS THE WAY FORWARD
Gates is reported as saying he would spend his last dollar
on it, but how well do board members understand and
appreciate the benefits that PR can bring to an
organisation, its image and reputation?
At the fourth Best Practice Forum we carried out research
amongst senior communications professionals from the
public and private sectors to gauge the amount of
influence that PR has at senior level and the level of
understanding of the board when it comes to tactical and
strategic PR and its impact on organisation success.
Doing well, but could do better. That’s the view expressed by senior communications
“There is always the pressure-come-desire to see more
media coverage/better PR-led relationships. Our role in
this is valued but not necessarily understood”, claimed
one director of communications.
The comments from guests of the event reveal an
interesting perception of the board’s level of
understanding of communications by PR professionals…
‘Their focus can be short-term and tactical’
‘The board does value public relations, but does not
particularly understand it’
‘They almost never discuss public relations issues’
‘Frequently they believe that PR really works like the
BBC’s Absolute Power’
Of course, one of the primary ways of improving the
understanding of PR at board level is providing
measurement of media coverage through evaluation.
But this is not always possible. “budget
constraints make it impossible for us to report to the
Board on the meaningfulness of the media coverage we work
so desperately hard to secure” was the opinion echoed by
many of those present.
Budget is not necessarily the only issue.
IT was felt that boardroom members often have
“unrealistic expectations” of public relations, for
example in “PR's ability to simply deliver media
coverage and of PR to be able to operate without the
high-level buy-in that effective PR requires”.
However, it is not all doom and gloom for the industry, as
there are some positive views to be found...
‘A good reputation arrives on foot, but leaves on
horseback!…the value… of public relations is well
‘There is a good understanding…of what we can achieve
So how does the PR industry go about improving the
it be reckless to assume that where there is a lack of
understanding of PR, there is a lack of representation at
board level? Not
and performance measurement is as fundamental to PR as it
is to any other business discipline. Being
able to demonstrate this in an understandable way is the
first step forward.