Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Prince of PR

In the current issue of Business Review West Michigan, Mark Sanchez has a nice commentary titled "Carrying on the Legacy." It's a relection about Edgar Prince and what has happened to the former Prince Corporation since its acquisition by Johnson Controls.

Sanchez summarizes what Prince employees learned from the media shy but influential Ed Prince as follows: "take care of your customers, take care of your employees, take care of your community, and the bottom line will take care of itself."

Sounds like public relations to me. Unfortunately, most people still do not make that connection. When management screws up, the media call it a "PR problem." When management practices fundamental public relations, they are considered management gurus. PR, like Rodney Dangerfield, gets no respect.

Why is the Ed Prince mantra fundamental PR? Look at the quote from Sanchez' column again. It is simply an articulation of three publics, including but not limited to customers (which means it goes beyond marketing). We could even add more publics to that list: investors, government, media etc. The notion that we should "take care" of these publics implies having relationships of mutual benefit, which is the essence of PR. Also, the idea that the bottom line will take care of itself is so radical in many management teams. But that also is refreshingly similar to a PR perspective. Too many managers devote all their efforts to the bottom line, and too many PR people try to demonstrate how PR impacts the bottom line. It does, but not always directly, or immediately. And, there's more to PR than financial metrics.

When the bottom line is the focus, relationships with ALL publics are forgotten--things become too consumer driven. Not that customers are not important, but they are not the only people we should be concerned with. When mutual relationships (i.e. PR) becomes the theme of your management, all publics AND the bottom line benefit. That's the PR perspective. That's why PR is a management function. Too bad too many still don't get that, both inside and outside the profession.

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