In an provocative opening session at the Holmes Report's ThinkTank Live summit in Prague, Ogilvy & Mather CEO Miles Young declared that the era of media relations is dead.
Entitled "Silo or Prairie", Young outlined a future for public relations that involved defining "corporate public responsibility", by focusing on community, belief and cultural intelligence. He challenged the packed house to "find a bigger mission for PR than it's traditional silo comfortably provides for."
"The era of media relations is as dead as a dodo," said Young, pointing out that changes in digital media have accelerated the need for companies to embrace transparency and authenticity. "The bracing wind of transparency is blowing down corporations' corridors"
Young added that "corporate reputation cannot have one guardian, and brand reputation another guardian," and said that PR people are often better suited to take over marketing functions.
Discussing the increasing "socialisation" of business, Young pointed to "huge implications" for enterprises. "If a customer seeks to engage a soft drinks manufacturer via the brand’s bottler, who manages the conversation and how?"
"The point I’m trying to make is we have the ability to create a real sense a community. And community is the output or dividend of transparency. In the new world, the role of PR is to help socialise the enteprise."
Young also cited the Arthur Page Society's Authentic Enterprise white paper, adding that PR professionals must help organisations define a point of view.
"Is PR a player in the shadows, or is it a builder of character?" he asked. Pointing to IBM's Smarter Planet platform, Young noted that the work "functioned as a belief system for IBM's values."
"This has changed the agency’s role - to that of a content publisher. It is true integration, but it comes from a view of what authenticity is. The output of authenticity is belief - a striking endorsement of the power of belief."
Finally, Young also said that globalisation called for greater "cultural intelligence" from the PR industry, to enable a departure from the "practically flawed notion of a flat world."