The marketing industry has experienced a massive shift in philosophy over the past few years, and public relations, in particular, is no exception. We’re well past the days of faxing a press release to a local broadcast newsroom. PR has become a 24/7, 365-days-a-year industry, with professionals now required to be constantly tuned in and responsive. The always-connected, always-on digital world we now live in has forced us to redefine not only the tactics, but also the purpose of public relations.
In late 2011, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) launched Public Relations Defined, a (long overdue) initiative to develop “a modern definition for the new era of public relations.” Failed attempts to do so in 2003 and 2007 had left this vague and dated definition in place since 1982:
“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”
The reworked version was revealed in early 2012 in a New York Times exclusive:
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Successful people have been studied and written about for centuries. We all wonder what qualities and habits enable greatness. Malcom Gladwell surmised that greatness was an output of practice—and a lot of it. 10,000 hours of deliberate practice seemed to be the magic number in his best selling book, “Outliers.” But like most things, it’s more complex than simply logging 10,000 hours.
A quick search on Google demonstrates how much has been written about the topic. As you can see below, when searching for “leadership qualities” over 40 million results are found.
People with an engineering mindset look at problems from the standpoint of product/service performance. They seek opportunities for functional improvement.
But not every problem has an engineering answer. After the easy fixes are in place, future efforts start to suffer from diminishing returns. At a certain point, it becomes incredibly difficult to enhance the functional value of a good. So how do you improve the experience without changing the reality of its performance?
You focus on the perception of its performance.
These days, everyone wants to talk about strategies for motivating employees. The topic has exploded over the past decade or so because our understanding of motivation has evolved. Decades ago, people thought we were motivated primarily by compensation. Pay people more and they’ll work harder, right? Fortunately, we’ve come to understand that human beings are more complicated than that.
Now, culture is all the rage. Thought leaders across every industry preach the effectiveness of building great work environments and weaving perks into the career experience. Article after article, blog post after blog post, headline after headline. The same talking points—largely repackaged.
What is culture? According to the experts, it’s a magical confluence of work and fun that improves performance across the board.
But the culture peddlers are missing the point. Yes, it’s important to create an atmosphere that drives and inspires great work, but are employee happiness and performance really as simple as a few perks and a pinch of autonomy?
We don’t think so.
Do you remember what you were doing the day that Netflix died?
During the summer of 2011, Netflix announced that it would be splitting its DVD-by-mail and streaming services. The streaming service would continue to be called Netflix, while the DVD service would be renamed “Qwikster.” Not only was this a bizarre and confusing choice, it also essentially created a price-hike for loyal users that had been signed up for both services. Consumers were outraged. The move was dubbed a giant “FAIL” by the collective masses, and CEO Reed Hastings quickly scrambled to put the toothpaste back in the tube, so to speak. Qwikster was scrapped, and prices returned to normal, but it seemed Netflix had done irreparable damage to its reputation. They were as good as dead…