Monday, March 19, 2012

Soft power: Is your country using it?

Intangible resources are fundamental assets for organizations to achieve great performance levels. They are also key in stakeholder relations management. The imagery that a brand inspires, the reputation of a company, the superior knowledge that an organization has in order to be an innovation leader, the trust we put in a brand, be it a retailer’s or an industrial one. 
In competing with each others, successful organizations use a great deal of “soft” tools. The same could be said if we consider countries and their international relations and it was described as “soft power ” some twenty years ago by Joseph Nye. It is the ability to obtaining your goals without using “hard” tools such as money or the military. 
The first attempt to measure soft power was done by Monocle magazine and the Institute for Government, and their survey is now at the second edition. The IfG-Monocle Soft Power Index considers items related to society, media, culture, environment, sport, the academic system, research and development, technologies, reputation, nation brand and international development and cooperation. Here you can have a look at the complete report.
Below, I made a comparison between the first ten nations in terms of GDP, soft power and Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index. The different rankings offer an interesting view on countries and maybe a starting point to think about the interrelations between economy, domestic policies, foreign affairs.
If you are interested in the role of public relations in public diplomacy, chapter 39 of Sriramesh and Verčič’s “The Global Public Relations Handboook” is a must-read.

By Marcello Coppa
Managing partner, Anteprima LAB, Italy
Global Affiliate, The Center for Global Public Relations

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

PR Redefined: A Global Perspective

It happens like clockwork at every social gathering when I go home– ‘The Question’ arises:

“Are you still in school, dear?” (Always said as though I’m a convicted felon serving time.)
“Yes ma’am.”
“Hmmm…and what is it that you’re studying again?”
“Public relations.”

Blank stare.

“Well, isn’t that nice.”

It’s something students and practitioners alike struggle with – and I’ve even heard members of the profession result to using terms such as ‘marketing’ or ‘advertising’ to describe it.  

To correct this wrong, the Public Relations Society of America recently set out to redefine PR for the first time since 1982 (to put this in context, 1982 was the year of Thriller and E.T.).

Out of 927 definitions submitted, the winner was….

Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”**

Yes, the definition is simple and straightforward and perhaps a tad more idealistic than realistic with a subtle nod to the Grunig and Hunt two-way symmetric spill (there’s a rant for another blog…).

While it may help solve the PR identity crisis from an American perspective, it does little to unite PR from a global perspective.

Around the world, PR is still in varying stages of evolution – in some countries, it’s driven by media relations and a ‘wining and dining' mentality.  In other regions, PR is associated largely with development communication. In some nations, the profession is regarded as a lucrative industry, while in others, it’s not even called ‘public relations’ at all.

(For more information on global PR, consider purchasing ‘Global Public Relations: Spanning Borders, Spanning Cultures’. Yes, this is a shameless plug.)

The fact of the matter is public relations, particularly on a global level, may be too complex to nicely package in a definition.

Do you think PR can ever be defined by one definition?

By Chelsea Wilde

**I’m sure this definition was submitted by someone making far more money than I do as a graduate assistant.