Dr Musekiwa Tapera
Extracting value from any professional activity is dependent on how the organisation understands and appreciates the purpose and responsibilities of that profession.
Getting value or extracting value or return on investment is not by accident. It is a deliberate, well thought out plan of the job content and purpose whose overall goal is to derive maximum benefits from the profession and for the growth and development of the organisation.
It is also incumbent upon the professionals to demonstrate their value to the organisation beyond the expected measure and bring tangible and intangible impact and outcomes to their organisation. Return on investment is a tough exercise for some professions since their value can be felt after a long time.
Organisational image is not an event but a process that takes a long time to be felt and appreciated.
Some aspects of PR take a long time to get appreciated by top management but some in today’s internet powered activities the value is being immediately appreciated.
Public relations is a management function that seeks to establish and maintain mutual understanding and relationships between the organisation and its primary and secondary stakeholders normally referred to as “publics.
It has been defined as a process of analysing trends, predicting their consequences with a view to advise and counsel management for purposes of creating mutually beneficial relationships between the organisation and its publics.
It doesn’t mean that other members of management do not have the capability of the doing what is stated in the definition but their focus is on other aspects of the management functions.
So in this case PR has the primary focus of forging strategic relationships, stakeholder, collaborations and mutually beneficial relationships for the benefit of the organisation. Out of all this is the outcome of social capital as an investment for the future.
The impact of these PR functions, among many are a process of careful planning and execution that can be appreciated over time by professionals such as accountants, economists, lawyers, engineers and others.
As mentioned above it is really incumbent for PR practitioners to demonstrate their strategic value to organisations though the outcomes, outputs and impact of their programmes to the organisations.
Strategic value is the critical driver of their recognition. Return on investment is what business appreciates.
Contribution to business and corporate strategy is what will make them stand out conspicuously among the other tall guys.
Value for corporates and other public sector organisations is measured by ones closeness to business, corporate strategy and maximisation if shareholder value, profitability, sustainable, competitiveness, growth platforms, investment, equity and other strategies that focus on the dollars and cents.
It is, therefore, imperative for issues PR practitioners and communicators to understand not only market dynamics, but investment, portfolios, monetary and fiscal policies, stock exchange operations, equity issues, taxation, data science and analytics and many other technical business issues to be of strategic value to their organisations.
Know and speak that language in management meetings, or board presentations. Love figures. Up your scale when you execute your PR strategy and don’t be taken for granted.
The strategic value does not make one forget the PR fundamentals that is under their armpit. It remains your responsibility, but executed from a strategic vantage point so that other professionals accord them the so much well deserved respect and dignity.
Out of this approach no one worth his salt will downplay your value and contribution in the corporate corridors. Your CEO to whom you report will position you as a corporate leader and a jewel of the organisation.
It has its own risks in the corporate corridors because of the influence that you will exert in corporate ladders but its one of the occupational hazards that one has to endure.
Corporate value from a PR perspective is within its domain but must be a function of core business.
Within the PR and Communications framework issues management is an anticipatory, strategic management process that helps organisation detect and respond appropriately to emerging trends or changes.
The trends or changes could crystallise into an issue which could raise attention and concern of important publics and stakeholders, PR practitioners must actively monitor and assess trends and developments within the business environment.
Issue management is different from crisis management as it has more time to take a measured, proactive approach as part of wider risk management. It should be part of your strategic decision making planning.
Trends and changes in issues management cuts across politics, economics, social and cultural issues. All these aspects are of strategic value to organisations and PR practitioners are the critical drivers.
Economic issues requires that practitioners have a good understanding of the economic outlook internally, regionally and globally. They should understand supply chain issues and taxes.
Changes in regulation are a reality in the business environment. Social trends have to do with people’s attitudes and behaviours and their impact on lifestyles and culture.
These are just examples of how strategic issues can be. In a nutshell the issues management process involves monitoring, assessing, preparing and agreeing, perseverance and executing to mitigate against risk.
The above is just but one area of strategic value to organisations led by PR practitioners.
Public relations practice is such a broad profession whose areas of corporate leadership include media relations, crisis management, research, investor relations, corporate image and corporate identity development, lobbying and advocacy, PR audits, Brand commitment, Brand Coordination, Brand leadership, Brand communication, Competitiveness, Corporate reputation and many others.
PR and communications professionals should stand out and sell themselves by adding value to their organisations make corporate leadership, of which you must one of them, elevate your status through solid and growth focused value.
Have your hands on the deck and be part of the strategic team. Return on investment must be demonstrated.