Public Relations and Leadership - the New Identity

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Presentation at the International Public Relations Conference, Barcelona 2 July 2013. ‘Redefining the Identity of the Public Relations Profession In a Borderless, Digital World – the New Leadership …

Presentation at the International Public Relations Conference, Barcelona 2 July 2013. ‘Redefining the Identity of the Public Relations Profession In a Borderless, Digital World – the New Leadership Role’. (Author: Dr Beige Pureau, bpureau@gmail.com, phone: (+61) 0437 101 272). Paper to be released in October 2013 after publishing.

ABSTRACT
Public Relations (PR) is more important now than ever before in a digital age and a borderless society where boundaries are blurred between professional, social, local and global environments. With the remodelling of organisations in this new territory, the PR profession has changed and a myriad of challenges and opportunities are presented in redefining its identity.
PR has re-focused upon interactive engagement, relationships, open discussion, and participation in decision-making. It is more strategic and socially-aware and there is a higher demand for leadership, to guide organisations through the minefield of governance issues. The one-way, controlled, mass media tools historically used are less feasible in a digital space, where everyone’s a contributor, with a voice.
For over a decade, Australian local government has recognised that innovative technologies present the opportunity to communicate and engage with residents, provide services online and enable participation in decision-making (Berryman 2004; Thomas 2004; Shackleton, Fisher & Dawson 2005). The reality also presents challenges for the PR profession.
This study: ‘The implications of innovation in e-government and communication strategy in Australian Local Government organizations: An investigation of current and emerging practice’ (Pureau 2012) presents an insight into the practice and changing role of PR in government. Following an extensive international literature review and comparison, the study examined 100 local government websites in 2009/10 and included a follow-up review of 30 of these websites in 2012, together with reflection on 14 international websites providing examples of innovative practice. The study also included 13 qualitative in-depth interviews with a range of industry representatives and academic commentators, including PR industry leaders.
The study observed PR practice in local government and how changes such as technology, e-government, social media and digital communications are radically altering the landscape of organisations and how this requires a re-think of the PR position. It also provided advice for practitioners navigating this landscape.

Please refer to full research: Doctoral Thesis http://researchbank.swinburne.edu.au/vital/access/manager/Repository/swin:31909

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  • Public Relations (PR) is more important now than ever before in a digital age and a borderless society where boundaries are blurred between professional, social, local and global environments. With the remodelling of organisations in this new territory, the PR profession has changed and a myriad of challenges and opportunities are presented in redefining its identity.

Transcript

  • 1. Redefining the Identity of the Public Relations Profession In a Borderless, Digital World – the New Leadership Role BEIGE PUREAU
  • 2. • This study observed PR practice in local government. • Changes such as technology, e-government, social media and digital communications are radically altering the landscape of organisations. • Requires a re-think of PR role. INTRODUCTION
  • 3. Local GLOBAL Blurred Boundaries Public/Private Instant Expectations of Responsiveness Viral Social Everyone is an Expert Collaborative DIGITAL Interpersonal A reflection of our changing environment, changing customer demands and a changing business model for organisations WHAT IS THE IDENTITY OF THE PR PROFESSION IN 2013? SERVICES 24/7
  • 4. The Study (2005-2012): ‘The implications of innovation in e-government and communication strategy in Australian Local Government organizations: An investigation of current and emerging practice’ (Pureau 2012) • Investigated local government organisations in the digital space (innovation in e-government and social media) • Provided a benchmark for the industry in Australia • Looked outward at international research • Looked at innovative examples of practice • Talked to people in PR practice, academia and industry • Looked behind the scenes at what was causing the issues • Presented advice for PR practice • Pointed to the importance of the PR LEADERSHIP role OVERVIEW
  • 5. UNDERSTANDING OF DEEPER ORGANISATIONAL AND SYSTEMIC ISSUES CRAFTING OF ADVICE TO INDUSTRY 13 INTERVIEWS with Industry Practitioners and Academics BENCHMARKING STUDY 2009/10: 100 local government websites in NSW & VIC Measuring 30 features of e-government (Based on audit tool by West 2000-08) REVIEW OF LITERATURE DEVELOPMENT OF CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK: 4 CLUSTERS OF CAPABILITY 1. Interactive Capabilities 2. Understanding Users 3. Connectedness & Integration 4. Governance WEB SITE FOLLOW UP REVIEWS 2012 (Innovation and Best Practice): 30 Local Government Websites in Australia 14 International Websites (USA, Canada and UK) THE STUDY
  • 6. No. Feature Measured % features across 100 Councils Cluster Ref 1 Phone information 100% GOV 2 Address information 100% GOV 3 Email information 100% GOV 4 Links to other sites 93% CON/INT 5 Publications 100% GOV 6 Databases 95% UC&R 7 E-news 52% UC&R 8 Audio/Podcast 20% UC&R 9 Video 24% UC&R 10 SIteMap 63% GOV 11 Search Capability 98% GOV 12 Quickfind 86% GOV 13 Presence of fully-executible services 98% (5 on average) IC 14 Security Statement 43% GOV 15 Privacy Statement 93% GOV 16 Accessibility – Disability Access 48% GOV 17 Language Translations 29% GOV 18 Email interactivity 98% IC 19 Post Comments (Social media/Consultation) 25% IC 20 Email Updates / RSS 53% IC 21 Broadcast (Blogs, Chats, Discussions, Twitter) 22% IC 22 Website Personalisation/ Customisation 4% UC&R 23 Online Forms / Surveys 84% IC 24 Website Campaigns 7% UC&R 25 Advertisements 2% UC&R 26 User payments 92% IC 27 e-services 98% IC 28 Portal Link 0% CON/INT 29 Digital Signature 0% IC 30 Credit Card use 93% IC Benchmarking Study Features and Results 2009/10 KEY FOR PRESENCE OF FEATURES High presence 80% -100% Medium Presence 50%-79% Low Presence 0%- 49% KEY FOR CLUSTERS GOV Governance CON/INT Connecting Services/Integration UC&R User Customisation & Responsiveness IC Interactive Capabilities
  • 7. BENCHMARKING • In 2009/10 - Low levels of interactivity (e.g. 25% use of social media/engagement), but pockets of innovation. • Only 5 Service online on average (17 highest, 0 Lowest). • 18 out of a total of 30 features were present on average. • Low customisation/personalisation, audio, video. • Low accessibility, language translation, security statements. REVIEW • By 2012 a review of 30 websites indicated more were demonstrating adoption of interactivity in Australia and 14 international examples of best practice revealed innovation. KEY FINDINGS
  • 8. STONNINGTON COUNCIL, VIC • Use of engagement portal including online polls, community forums, social media interaction, videos and e-news. MOSMAN COUNCIL, NSW • Use of engagement forums to consult the community in planning and decisions • Community ideas • Social media interaction EXAMPLES
  • 9. Los Angeles, USA > Ideas LAB Dedicated Planning forums and integrated social media EXAMPLE
  • 10. MOONEE VALLEY COUNCIL, VIC • Mobile Apps (Snap Send Solve) • Interactive Online Mapping EXAMPLE
  • 11. Customisation of websites QR Codes Online mapping / ‘near me’ Mobilisation of content UK and USA Australia Use of Real Time technology to aid preparedness (snow/weather/ traffic conditions) Applications for specific services (arts/culture) User-driven engagement OTHER EXAMPLES
  • 12. When flooding occurred in 2011, Brisbane Council used social media: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube to communicate with residents.  Social media channels enabled the sharing of messages from authorities - Police and SES.  Social media was used to gain intelligence from the public for the Local Disaster Centre.  Social media channels were monitored continuously and common queries from the public were fed back to obtain responses which could then be shared publicly.  It was used to co-ordinate volunteers.  It was used to assist evacuation when other sources of contact failed. The campaign was a huge success. SOCIAL MEDIA DATA: Facebook • Grew from 759 likes to 12,679 • 17,546 comments • 4,641,232 post views Twitter • Grew from 2,955 followers to 8,291 • 561 tweets sent in January • 2,207 re-tweets • 8,322,516 impressions Social Media In An Emergency Case Study Flooding: Brisbane City Council (2011) EXAMPLE
  • 13. 13 Interviews (8 men + 5 women) CEOs, PR and Community Engagement Directors, Academics SOME OF THE ISSUES RAISED: • Reconfiguring the organisation’s business model to match capabilities with user expectations of seamless service delivery. • The requirement for culture change away from traditional ways of doing business. • The need for local government to loosen control to keep pace with the dynamic nature of social media and take up online tools that allow people to genuinely participate in decision-making, while working with governance frameworks. • The organisation implications of changes in communications roles/processes. • Communication needs to be considered in a strategic context and consumer needs should be researched. • Importance of ensuring that the value of face-to-face and interpersonal communications is not lost. INTERVIEWS: KEY FINDINGS
  • 14. PR has re-focused upon interactive engagement, relationships, open discussion, and participation in decision- making. It is more strategic and socially-aware. There is a higher demand for leadership, to guide organisations through the minefield of governance issues. The one-way, controlled, mass media tools historically used are less feasible in a digital space, where everyone’s a contributor, with a voice. THE CHANGING ROLE OF PR
  • 15. Traditional communications practice involved careful preparation, editing and formal approval processes for communications materials, key messages, scripted media releases. Communication in the Web 2.0 environment and via social media is immediate, less formal, socially focused and conversational – requiring immediate response in a potentially global space. CHANGING COMMUNICATIONS THEORY AND PR PRACTICE
  • 16. From one way (hypodermic) model to two-way (feedback and dialogue) to real-time, multidimensional, collaborative, dynamic communications, direct / no intermediary Information > consultation > engagement > decision-making The dynamics have changed but some elements remain (importance of face to face, personal service / social contract, accessibility) CHANGING COMMUNICATIONS THEORY AND PR PRACTICE
  • 17. The challenges are less to do with the continuing rapid evolution of technology than the functional, organisational and systemic capabilities required: business models, culture, processes, systems, skills and structures. THE CHALLENGES ARE NOT ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY
  • 18. Customer expectations are high. Organisations need to reinvent their business models in order to succeed in a fast-paced and dynamic digital environment, 24/7. These complexities are also about: – Staff policies, the need for skills and training, empowerment to respond directly – Ensuring governance - such as the protection of citizen privacy, security, accessibility – The ability to facilitate open feedback and allow participation in decision-making. THE CHALLENGES AFFECT THE WHOLE ORGANISATION
  • 19. Boundaries in a digital era are blurred on many levels (e.g. social media: employees can have both a professional and a personal presence online). Defining where the boundaries lie, is critical. Policy is key. Organisational boundaries that traditionally existed, based on geographical locations and local communities, now extend to communities of shared interests that can attract global attention. Intermediaries and gatekeepers are no longer as relevant, as citizens communicate and collaborate with each other, directly, in real-time. BOUNDARIES ARE BLURRED
  • 20. FRAMEWORK FOR INTERPRETING BOUNDARIES (Hernes 2004)
  • 21. The 30 features reviewed through the 2009/10 benchmarking study map the functional capabilities required from a local government organisation to achieve successful e-government. However, the development of these functional capabilities goes well beyond issues of technology and brings into play fundamental organisational capabilities of skill, agility, confidence, learning and cultural practice. CULTURE, CAPABILITIES & LEADERSHIP
  • 22. Schein’s (2010) three levels of culture in an organisation can help understand the complex dimensions of the organisation in a digital world. Seen through Schein’s three levels of culture, the website benchmarking study focused on artefacts (such as the presence of interactive communications tools including social media). The interviews and literature draw attention to the underlying assumptions, beliefs and values that people hold about using technology, about change and risks. CULTURE, CAPABILITIES & LEADERSHIP
  • 23. 1. Reviewing the business model 2. Conducting research to identify customer needs 3. Identifying services 4. Developing a plan 5. Setting objectives 6. Choosing the right channel of delivery and targeting 7. Understanding and choosing the right technology 8. Establishing a governance framework with protocols 9. Managing resources in terms of people, skills, empowerment, culture and responsiveness 10.Evaluation, analysing data and reporting ADVICE: 10 Guidelines
  • 24. Reinventing an organisation to operate successfully within a digital environment requires strong leadership that challenges traditional ways of thinking. It is about changing the organisation culture and business model, empowering people and ensuring governance whilst embracing openness and innovation. The new PR role is about providing strategic advice on navigating this complex territory. THE NEW PR ROLE
  • 25. Communications + IT / Technology Expert Human Resources (policy / training) Change Management Customer Service (empowerment / responsiveness) Governance (privacy, monitoring, records) LEADERSHIP THE NEW PR ROLE