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Is PR Becoming a Management Discipline?

[fa icon="calendar"] 13-Sep-2016 09:00:00 / by Iliyana Stareva


Let me ask you a question: Is PR a management discipline? 

I'm guessing many of you would react to this saying "Hmm no, I don't think so."

You'd be right. PR is not considered a management discipline. At least not yet.

Many PR professionals strive to get the industry there. It's not an easy task, though. Why? Because it requires a complete mind shift change and a new perception of PR's reputation. That, on the other hand, requires a lot of re-education and then appropriate practical application combined with results. It requires that PR professionals change the way they work, learn, grow and service the bottom line. 

That's super hard to do on a mass level which is why I love #FuturePRoof. It's exactly the type of an initiative that can reach a mass PR audience and teach PR people how to be better, how to work in a way so that they can contribute to the PR industry finally being considered a management discipline.

If you remember, the first #FuturePRoof was a crowd-sourced book designed as the go-to guide for managers of PR agencies and communications teams. I was honoured then to be invited as one of the contributors (among some huge names in PR!) and wrote chapter 27 on Inbound PR and how comms teams should practice what they preach. 

Less than a year later, the second edition of FuturePRoof launched last week. And it's just as strong. 

With 39 essays by prominent PR people from around the world, the second book continues the discussion around the future of the PR industry. 

Edition one set the ground of how things should be done and improved. Edition two digs deeper into the gaps and how we can fix those gaps. It focuses a lot on continuing education and skills development, employees and employee engagement, team and company culture, leadership, client management and driving better results with the latest tools and technology. 

Each and every chapter provides tremendous value and practical guidance. My three favourite ones though are: 

  • Chapter 22 by Andrew Reeves and how to not over-service and get under-paid as an agency (something my own agencies as HubSpot partners often fall victim to). 
  • Chapter 24 by Alicia Mellish and how the leader should step back and enable the agency team to build a professional structure of decision-making and service delivery (another challenge my HubSpot partners are facing when they start to scale). 
  • Chapter 25 by Paul Sutton and how it's hugely important to promote mental and physical health and find ways to tackle the high-pressure environment (another problem area for any agency that strives to provide results to clients and ends up putting the client first at all cost).

I definitely recommend for any agency, not just PR, to read #FuturePRoof.

Huge respect to Sarah Hall for her efforts and not only bringing this fantastic initiative to live (twice!) but pushing the important conversation around how to get PR to be considered a management discipline and inserting it into daily practice.

As Sarah says, "the public relations industry is waking up to the fact that if we are truly guiding organisational strategy, it is common sense that other disciplines answer to us within the corporate hierarchy. I expect this narrative to get louder and louder.”

I firmly believe PR should be seen as a management discipline because it guides strategic decisions and actions around a company's two most important audiences - its customers and its employees. And with the emergence of digital media and the proliferation of social, customers and employees are the ones who have the power. Everything we do as comms professionals needs to be about and for them, not for the company's bottom line.

The power has shifted. Happy employees bring happy customers. Together, they bring a happy bottom line. 

You either need to adapt or die. And by adapting I mean trusting and letting PR do what it does best.

Now let me ask you again: Is PR a management discipline? 


Topics: Public Relations

Iliyana Stareva

Written by Iliyana Stareva

Iliyana Stareva is Global Partner Program Manager at HubSpot where she plans and executes major cross-functional change across the globe. She spends her free time dancing salsa or writing about Inbound PR, Inbound Marketing and Agency Business, expertise gathered from years of agency experience and agency business consulting across Germany, the UK and Ireland.

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