PR versus communications: Edelman makes the right
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report

PR versus communications: Edelman makes the right

Paul Holmes

Richard Edelman makes the right call in response to internal suggestions that Edelman redefine itself as a communications agency rather than a public relations firm. I’ve made the case many times, but I’ll do so again. Communication as an important part of public relations, but viewing PR people as mere communicators narrows our focus and significantly reduces the value we can add to clients. Consider a scenario: your company has been responsible for spewing toxic sludge into a pristine stretch of river, destroying wildlife and polluting the water supply. Your CEO comes to you for advice. I know what the public relations advice in this scenario should be: stop spewing toxic sludge. What’s the communications advice? Lie? Craft a compelling narrative to convince people that toxic sludge is good for them? The fact is that there’s no “communications” solution to this problem. It’s a problem that requires a change in behavior. Managing the relationship between an organization and its publics—public relations—requires good behavior and good communication, and if we define ourselves exclusively by the latter we are doing a disservice to ourselves, our profession and our clients.
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