Moving from Message Carriers to Identity Formulators

PR and the communications function: moving from message carriers to identity formulators

For sure the social web has flattened us all – seems that everyone now has an almost equal voice in making meaning in the world.  As a result, lots of conversations are happening about how the public relations function is changing as a result.

For some, PR’s moment in the sun has arrived, given its expertise in two-way communication.  There is a lot of speculation that PR can increase its share of the spend in the marketing mix. Time to call on the CMO as well as the CCO!

These perspectives are certainly true, but there is an additional larger perspective that can inform the evolution of PR and the communications function: the role we play as expert communicators gives us the opportunity to become formulators of identity.

It works like this: as we consider the character of the client organization and the characters of their various constituencies, such as employees and product or service user communities, we can begin to outline the shared identity of the client – how the client’s brand is perceived in common by the various constituencies – what in the end is real, holds water so to speak, for all concerned.

This would be the true identity of the brand – the essence of it distilled into the client organization’s goals, employee participation and end user community experiences.  No one part of this network of communities connected to the brand holds the whole identity of the brand, each holds only a part, with the essence held only in common among them.

The PR and communications practitioner, the communications expert, who remains often the only one experiencing the many constituencies in a neutral way, has the opportunity of naming and framing this shared identity.  You might even say PR and the communications function could become the holder of the meaning of the brand.

Reaching too far? Perhaps – but who else is better positioned to articulate the shared identity?  Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Partner and Chief Learning Officer at Ketchum. Complexity, uncertainty, ambiguity and velocity are mushrooming in the world. The ability to know oneself and to rapidly make sense of the fire hose of information helps. This equals Learning = World Problem Solution. 🙂