A timely topic in the realm of both marketing and media relations is the increasingly dominant role of creative leadership in PR. At a moment where the public relations industry as a whole continues to expand and our collective purview increases to include active brand reputation building on an hourly basis, we now manage visual print, digital, social and broadcast media within a 24/7 culture always hungry for new creative content.
The possibilities are limitless, but how can one best harness creative assets and talent to achieve optimal results within this new climate as a PR leader? Much has been written (and promoted) of late on the topic of leadership.
The New York Times’ recent piece about cultivating leaders of consequence, titled Can You Learn to Lead? illustrates that this is now being taught at top universities and business schools.
Are leaders made or born? The answer to that question may only be answered through successful examples of brands that uniquely embrace the tools that new media has to offer their PR practitioners.
But have PR firms taken full advantage of this creative leadership opportunity? It’s a matter of debate. The question most clients will ask at an initial meeting is how creativity can be leveraged to drive their business. The next question invariably concerns how to measure and harness that business success.
PR practitioners have been trusted to take the “4 Ps” of leadership–purpose, principles, people and process–and run with the opportunity to utilize a uniquely complex, creative set of skills.
These include (but are not limited) to hourly client-side services such as visual and written brand building, reputation management, media relations across thousands of platforms, event planning and production, internal communications and meeting coordination, troubleshooting/problem solving and community relations.
Is that all, you might ask? No, it is not. Business development, creative partnership building and strategic industry relations all fall under the PR leadership umbrella as well.
In 2014, the Harvard Business Review studied this polemic within multiple companies to determine the skills needed at every level within an organization looking to reach this creative nadir with an agency rather than outsourcing it altogether (as is too often be the case) in a piece titled The Skills Leaders Need at Every Level.
PR is no exception to the rule that organizations need creative leadership. The industry as a whole arguably requires this leadership style more than others, considering the varied needs of clients and constantly shifting media landscape.
With analytics, behavioral insights, experiential and social all moving in on traditionally earned media in the realms of print and broadcast, the PR leader becomes a galvanizing resource. But in order to bring this discussion to the forefront, PR firms must also evolve as quickly as possible.
As strong media relations and brand outreach become increasingly relevant in the business world, PR professionals will continue to pursue the highest standards in creative leadership, while adapting to the pressing new needs and related skill sets in global business.