The current media meltdown following the News of the World scandal has left a lot of very raw egg on a host of very red faces. Once again, some of the soggiest have been the MPs. The Labour lot for having largely popularised spin and control of the airwaves in pursuit of presidential politics masterminded by Campbell, Mandy and co. The Tories for the ongoing and deeply concerning Coulson debacle.
In Brand Engagement, a manifesto for authenticity in internal communication, Ian calls for consistency in behaviour to back up fine words and heralds the “end of the era of spin”. We now appear to be witnessing a rather spectacular conclusion to that epoch.
But where does that leave the communication discipline of PR?
Having both served a term as CIPR Advisory Board members, aiming to help steer the CIPR Inside function onto practical, pragmatic shores, it’s clear that internal communicators can still learn a great deal from the PR practitioners and that PR professionals in the main value the role that internal communication can play in an integrated communication strategy. There is, however, something innately uncomfortable about associating internal communication and its stakeholders who demand authenticity (and are very demanding customers), with internal PR.
There are clearly challenging times ahead for PR functions. Regardless of whether they face externally or, in fact, internally they have always been, to some extent, perceived as the cuckoo in the internal communicator’s nest. Unfortunately, recent events in the PR space and plummeting consumer confidence in message management aren’t likely to have done much to help the cause.
Based on previous and current client experience, we rather suspect that we’re about to see a new generation of enlightened and empowered HR functions take back much of the territory lost to their communication counterparts as they start to prepare for recovery and move increasingly into the largely behaviour-based engagement zone.
Collaborations between the people functions would clearly be better. But cutting through the hype, the noise and the fog in order to restore lost confidence is clearly going to be key regardless. It would appear that HR , with CEO support, is currently best placed to lead the revivalist charge.