And, what is PR

I have been engaged in an exchange at PR Conversations . It is a debate about the nature of public relations and the extent to which the Stockholm Accords will affect the nature of PR worldwide.

This is an area where I have a very strong academic interest (and will be publishing more research on the subject this year).

The Accords are very helpful for teaching undergraduate PR students. They make students look at PR in the round and take a holistic view of PR as a discipline. I have already injected the Accords into my courses for this semester.

Some of us in academia are now convinced that reputation and relationships are founded on an understanding of the dynamic of values held between people and people (formally called the audience) and people and institutions.  It is very encouraging to find this reflected in the Accords which talk of PR “Participat(ing) in defining organizational values, principles, strategies, policies and processes”.

It sounds a bit twee but the use for such thinking is deep and has a hard edge. For example, could you write down the values that describe your organisation? Would they be the same as everyone else?  Is it true that in organisations where there are very convergent values between employees it is more successful?

As Bruno showed so eloquently this year and at Bled last year, these ideas are not just theoretical, they are founded on discourse analysis of thousands of people.

Most days, I work on analysis that keeps confirming this approach.

Public relations is a discipline founded on an appreciation of citizen and institutional values. That is the base, the foundation, the elemental of the profession.

When we know this, all of the debates fall into place. Some parts of PR are the work of its artisans, some is the stuff of inspired intuition, some is process and some is founded on immutable PR laws stemming from the role of PR in identifying, espousing and managing the explication of values.

With practitioners empowered with grounding in these ideas, clients of agencies like Publicasity can gain huge benefits.

Perhaps there are some case studies that can help us understand further, such as the difference between the management values of Virgin and BA, or product values between M&S and Aldi.

From pure academic to practical application, the values theory applied in public relations is an interesting perspective.

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