New PR. Same As The Old PR?
Having discovered that watching a conference booth is only slightly less stultifying than having to be there, I checked out more elements of the Forrester conference.
I found a revealing summary of his keynote speech by Richard Edelman who I've applauded in the past for his long-term efforts to reappraise the role of his industry.
My central thesis is that corporations can’t buy reputation or brand loyalty any more. These are earned through performance over the long-term.
No argument with that - except that it seems to me to have been the case since the arrival of multi-channel television which has been well over a decade in most countries. But he goes on to say,
We should start at the end point--to dream about where we would like our client to be—and then create a dialogue-based communications program to get them there.
That smacks to me of the old PR he's just vilified. Your client is where your client is. They are there by dint of how they behave. PR cannot alter that location and initiatives such as getting clients to co-opt social issues reeks of greenwashing. Co-opting is easy and actually doing something is much, much harder and often conflicts with corporate strategy.
Any attempt to stamp an alternate image on the outside of a business runs the risk of not reflecting that which actually runs through it. It is a tattoo rather than DNA and, as such, can appear unattractive to the populace, is liable to date rather quickly and will be painful to remove.