It’s World PR Day today! Public relations practitioners and PR associations from across the globe are coming together to celebrate the first-ever World Public Relations Day. The July 16 date was inspired by American PR expert Ivy Ledbetter Lee who was born on the same day (July 16, 1877) and is regarded as one of the forefathers of modern public relations.
The special day is set aside to appreciate the profession and its impact on the world; and I couldn’t be any prouder to be a part of this group myself, being able to do what I love and love what I do.
If anything, 2020 showed us the true role that PR and communications play in building and sustaining brands, businesses and civilization in general. Whilst the entire world was locked down, figuring out next moves, PR practitioners and agencies of all sizes were strategizing and helping businesses and leaders from all walks of life including presidents, to communicate with their internal and external stakeholders.
As the world experienced disruption of unprecedented proportions, a deciding factor in whether a business or leader sank or swam during the thick of the covid-19 outbreak, depended on the PR and communication strategies deployed or lack thereof. I dare say that a major contribution to Donald Trump losing his second term bid in the 2020 US presidential elections was because of his ineffective PR and communication tactics, especially at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic.
Although we cannot equate the significance, it is not out of place to say that just like our heroic frontline workers, PR has carried the business world on its back from February 2020 till now. From helping leaders to decide the best ways to pass out information, to putting out many raging fires, promoting new concepts including vaccine acceptance, activating one reputation management plan to the other and so much more, public relations practitioners stepped up at a time when it was needed and played a huge role in shaping the perception of the world during one of the most challenging times of our human existence.
For that, I want to say a big well done to public relations practitioners everywhere. We have shown the world that indeed, PR is no longer a nice to have, it is a must have for any individual or organization that wants to excel in their chosen fields of endeavour.
However, as we celebrate World PR Day today, I want to recognize one of the groups that contribute to making those of us in public relations shine – The press! It is no secret that from inception, public relations and journalism have not had the easiest of relationships, largely due to distrust. That being said, we can also not deny the co-dependency between both professions. As a matter of fact, many current PR practitioners were once journalists.
From print to broadcast and now digital, members of the press collaborate with PR to work behind the scenes and in the background to bring our strategies and tactics to life.
As a natural people’s person, I have always believed that the P in PR represents people which includes the press. Any PR practitioner worth their salt, understands that while it is not the only factor, having the press in one’s corner is a quick way to help clients achieve their public relations goals which consequently can help a PR professional advance in their career, and really just get things moving.
No matter how good you are or how many years you have been in the game, you still cannot achieve anything by yourself, we need people. This has made it very important for me to treat people right and accord members of the press and all the people who work with us the respect and dignity that they deserve. I have also had to deliberately pass this down to my team when we have to interface with members of the press at events or during interviews as a mantra “be nice to all members of the press”.
I have found that being genuinely kind to the press not only helps the recipient but it helps the professional as well, as you are the first beneficiaries of your kindness. Plus, you are building a memorial for yourself, your career and the people who will come up after you in the industry.
In my conversations with members of the press, they have shown me that they will go above and beyond for practitioners who treat them with respect and appreciate the value they bring.
A major highlight for me is seeing the members of the press who we started out together years ago now doing big things in the industry. Growing from junior reporter to editor and leading news rooms and media organizations across the country. Moving from budding influencers to macro influencers, becoming well respected thought leaders in the media community and thus, being able to support each other for the greater good.
As we navigate today’s ever changing world, this co-dependency between journalists and PR practitioners is one thing we cannot take for granted.
Omawumi Ogbe is the managing partner at one of Nigeria’s fastest growing PR & Communications agencies, GLG Communications.