Sometimes it’s difficult to believe that PR is the seventh most stressful job, after police officer, fireman and enlisted soldier. However, this year things are different. All of a sudden, PR professionals have found themselves on the front lines of exploding issues within their respective businesses. Headlines on the “shareholder spring”, alleged unethical business practices, and tax minimization issues have given us a taste of what it’s like to be a communications professional today. Interestingly enough, there are other issues that keep PR professionals up at night.
According to this year’s European Communications Monitor study, 84% of the 2,185 PR professionals surveyed think that top management does not understand communications. 72% believe that the increase in social media makes communication more challenging from an ethical standpoint. 85% believe they’ve got to learn on the job as training and development opportunities are limited.
This illustrates the gap between the challenges of the profession and the needs of PR professionals themselves. Or, perhaps, one of the reasons why PR is one of the most stressful jobs today. No one knows when the modern world is going to throw up another complex business issue that will require an immediate, strong and sophisticated response to stop one’s business reputation from descending into a full-blown crisis. It increasingly looks like effective guardians of corporate reputation have to be as savvy and sophisticated in both their corporate business sector and PR as never before. However, it’s not only about stuffing one’s corporate team with superstars. As the saying goes, success is 99% hard work and 1% talent. Whether it’s true or not, “make hay while the sun shines” – is not a bad approach.
Ultimately the key to effectively responding to a difficult situation is to prepare. Scenario planning and live simulations are the best way in which to develop and maintain the necessary team skills. Building chemistry and trust within the team is as important. If and when there is an explosion – literally or metaphorically – it is often of ultimate importance to minimize the response time and avoid amateurish slips and falls.
This creates an opportunity for agencies like Ketchum that have strong crisis preparedness and response teams, a broad range of global industry specialists and communications specialisms. Given the changing global business and media environment, so-called communications “supermarkets” are well positioned to support clients in almost any situation. PR industry associations are also vital in ensuring PR professionals have access to the most up-to-date guidance, training and events where they can share and discuss their experiences and share best practices.
As one of the well-known corporate mottos goes, “we are better, connected.” It’s important to ensure there’s no network breakdown preventing us from together overcoming any difficulties that the business world or media may throw our way.