I’ll be the first to say I’ve never been a fan of Public Relations officials, or at least I’ve never been a fan of my idea of how the P.R. world works. I’ve always thought that P.R. officials covered up the slimy conduct of their clients by distracting the public with shiny, new ad campaigns showing all the good the company does. After reading PR’s New Frontier: Storytelling at the Speed of Now by Richard Edelman, I understand that P.R. is similar to CIA operations; we only really hear about them when there has been a massive foul up. P.R. isn’t just about saving face; it’s about creating an aura of decency and profitability around a company.
Edelman lays out three basic concepts that, in his mind, envelop the duties of a P.R. agency: evolve, promote, protect, (Edelman 5). Evolution, according to Edelman, is “help[ing] position and transform companies…and their brands,” (Edelman 6). Simply put, P.R. companies help businesses adapt to changing business landscapes. A P.R. agent, therefore, must be as adaptable as they encourage their clients to be. Promotion, Edelman elucidates, is “help[ing] launch products…creat[ing] demand, spark[ing] conversations, generat[ing] visibility, driv[ing] retail traffic and trigger[ing] purchase,” (Edelman 6). This means that in addition to being adaptable, a P.R. agent must be creative. They need to know how to manipulate consumers into buying their client’s products. Finally a P.R. agency must protect their clients by “engag[ing] in the intellectually challenging work required to manage crises in real time…help[ing] to repair sentiments…and navigate reputational attacks,” (Edelman 6). The reality is that demonizing the P.R. world removes a lot of the good that companies do. Companies may choose to ignore the poverty around them in favor of profit if a P.R. officer didn’t intervene. The job of a P.R. person appears to be that of a wise guide. They function as the leader of companies to a path that attracts profit but keeps the consumers’ values in mind. In a way they’re the real superheroes of the corporate world.