Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Source: Večernji list, written by: Ivan Tomic
We were told by Jane Dvorak that this interview would be presented at an International Conference as a mark of interest towards development of public relations in transition countries. Jane Dvorak, president of Public Relations Society of America, one of the most powerful and largest organisations of its kind in the world, willingly agreed to an interview with Vecernji List in order to talk about trends in one of the most important and expanding industries in the world. Frederic Beigbeder, French writer, once said that if you want to rule the world you must rule PR. How accurate is this quote and where is America today?
The organisation you are president of is celebrating its seventieth anniversary. What is the PRSA today, how large is your membership base and who are your members?
I am very proud head a very important and relevant organisation which offers its members professional development and leadership skills. The PRSA is the largest public relations association in the USA which in its seventy years has helped more than 21000 members to be more professional, prepared and connected. We have more than 11000 students in our student programe.The PRSA attracts communication experts from PR agencies, corporations, non profit organisations, commerce and govermental bodies. These experts practice in multitude of fields such as public relations, media relations, crisis communications, marketing relations, digital media, event managemnet, internal communications, higher education, public affairs and many others. Our longstanding tradition in leadership and networking offers our members ability to operate locally and internationally.
Are your members from the USA only or other continents as well?
Our members are, understandably , mainly from the USA. We do have some members from Australia, Japan, Canada and Central America, mainly Puerto Rico. We do have student branches in Argentina, Columbia and Peru.
Where is the PR industry at these days?
PR is as exciting today as it was 70 years ago. Our profession has gone through some dramatic changes since the early days of publicity. Today, it is a science based discipline of strategic economic function which encompasses many other fields.
How fast is PR changing today? Is there such a thing as mainstream PR or is PR changing constantly?
From the very early days of the industry, constant change of trends was a challenge for the PR people. It is patently clear that content development is vital in a company representation, especially as traditional media are loosing in importance. Increasing importance of visual media, especially online video content changes the way a message is reaching its target audience. New techniques are complimenting clasic written word approach . Written word is still a mainstay of quality PR. Strategic importance of PR in business world is as relevant as ever. Communication specialists are capable of giving advice regarding financial data presentation , internal and external communication, market and consumer behaviour analysis.
In your experience, what are the qualities necessary for a succesful PR practitioner in the USA?
The most important quality of a PR professional is leadership skills and ability to implement those skills within their organisation. They have to know the way company operates, sell the product, improve service or implement new programs. All these qualities will help them reach the target audience of the company. On the other hand, although the written word is a foundation of PR, a PR practitioner has to have an understanding of economic and digital platforms. These tools will enhance their skillset and improve the outcome for their company.
Is PR at the top or middle management level of today’s companies?
In the USA, PR is definitely in C-suite position. PR practitioners are part of the operative management, making strategic decisions. To be succesful on that level they have to have quality comunication skills. On the top level, PR plays important role in message dissemination, maintaining reputation and ethical leadership. Middle level managment PR is at executive level.The PR role is to implement strategy and campaigns and to communicate company strategy.
At what stage PR education is nowadays? Are there established standards of education and are you satisfied with college and university courses?
In the USA, students have a lot of choice in choosing a PR course. PRSA students are offered over 350 courses country wide. The program is based on PR foundations such as: basics, writing, campaign development etc. Many students take advantage of a first hand experince in various companies and organisations. They learn from professionals how to lead a company from a PR standpoint. The PRSA has its own Educational Affairs Committee; the committee certifies university PR courses, and sets the norms in PR education. This includes MBA programs containing communications as a part of the syllabus. Our society is dedicated to achieving best educational standards for our students.
What are the most important PRSA education programs?
From professional point of view, our educational programs are most useful membership perk in our society. We offer webinars, regional and international conferences. This includes certification programs through our Special Interest Section. We are constantly trying to innovate our programes, the latest one is Reputation Management. Our international conference was held in Boston this year and attracted 3000 professionals and 1200 students. Our conferences offer various panel discussions, interesting presentations where speakers bring new ideas in PR development.
Have you got access to educational programs on other continents?
The Global Alliance, founded by PRSA, is active in more than 60 states working on dialogue, setting standards and offering information to educational institutions.
Based on your knowledge and experience, have you got any advice for transition countries with regards to PR education?
Writing should be a core of any educational program. Understanding written word communication is essential for successful use of social media platforms, marketing tools and any other types of writing including bulletins, magazines, annual reports, brochures, electronic mail, web content, bloggs and social media.Besides, strategic planning and business knowledge are key skills of successful PR professional.
Ethics in Public Relations
You deal a lot with ethical issues. Your Ethics codex is well known in our country. We study it at our universities. What is your opinion on the American PR practitioners adherence to ethical principles?
Our ethics codex is the fundamental document that must be sigend by each member when joining the PRSA. Also, the PRSA sets ethical standards within the industry and is always aiming at highest possible ethical standards. Our codex is a useful guide for individuals and corporations when facing ethical dilemma. The PRSA has issued a statement in early 2017 regarding alternative facts and fake news. We as an organisation are resolutely defending ethical conduct in our profession. We work on the basis of truth, accuracy and honesty. Our position has been met with approval by many colleagues in many countries worldwide.
We say that the PR is not a manipulation, although in some instances PR is using manipulative techniques, spin techniques. Is the spin alive and kicking in the PR in the USA. Where else can you find spin doctors and in what areas?
No. Truth must be an essence of each communication, because every relationship with clients, consumers, employees has to be based on trust. Ethical professional never uses spin to manipulate truth. We must be the voice of honesty within a company and be led by ethical principles of our profession.
RELATIONSHIP WITH MEDIA
Have the social networks taken over the PR? Has the PR moved to the new media? What is your experience?
Some people call social media new PR. They are not new PR, but a very powerful tool of placing ads or campaigns. Nowadays, one ad can be sent with 140 emoticons. Each one has a role to play and increases ability and creativity of the messages. PR professionals must be able to take a full advantage of social media as a communication tool. I have no doubt that there will be new challenges for them in the future.
In your opinion, what is the percentage of American companies who have crisis communication plans?
According to the research done by the Institute for Crisis Communication, little bit more than 50 percent of North American firms have crisis communication plans. That is astounding, considering the risk of large cyber attacks. Some companies weather the crisis on the go because they have a plan. It is also fact that many companies take a lot of time to survive a crisis.
During a crisis in companies and organisations, is the crisis communication done in-house or by external agencies? How is it done in the USA?
In the USA the crisis communication is done either in-house or using external agencies.There’s a lot of variations. Very often in-house team deals with crisis communication but external agancy devises the plan. Of course the scope and seriousness of crisis will dictate measures necessary to defend the company and its employees. Regardless of the number of communications expert employed, any company should have contingency plan.
What is your message to the developing countries with regards to the PR. What should they focus on and what should they avoid?
My message to the PR professionals in your region is for them to be strategic voice in their companies, organisations and governments. Basing your campaigns and strategies on relevant research and constantly monitoring environment will contribute to the future plans. You have to be timely in communicating your organisation or company’s message, you have to be creative and innovative. That is how you build trust and position a company as a market brand.