Can PR Be Objective, Can Anyone?
I blogged about PR as an Ombudsman earlier this week and Ryan Scholan expressed his concern in my comment section about the objectivity of the person who would perform this task.
His use of the phrase “agenda-toting” was loaded for effect, but my argument is that everyone has an “agenda.”
It could be argued that no ombudsman has total objectivity.
Media organizations hire ombudsman (for money) to “listen” to the viewers/readers/listeners and act as a champion of some of those views to management.
However, the ombudsman also clears up misperceptions that the public might have. In fact, ombudsman serve an edcucational purpose for consumers of the news organization. You can see this in action by visiting the ombudsman page at National Public Radio.
What I am saying is that PR can also serve in this education capacity. Many people who say they practive PR actually practice MARKETING. However, this is not the highest purpose for PR.
I signed a Code of Ethics as an accredited member of PRSA that, among other things says that I must protect and advance the free flow of accurate and truthful information, serve the public interest and contribute to informed decision making in a democratic society.
Do all PR professionals follow these standards? NO. See yesterday's post to see how far some have fallen.
However, I still believe that the role of some kind of consumer advocate, whether you call it an ombudsman or not, could easily fit in as one of the functions of PR.
Ryan Sholin says
You’re right — “agenda-toting” was clearly loaded, but if I understand correctly, it’s not the job of Public Relations to be objective. An ombudsman, on the other hand, can only do the job well as an objective observer.
Kami Huyse, APR says
I get where you are coming from, but I think that PR (as it evolves) needs a more active role advocating for the customer inside the company. This will lead the company to make better decisions and product.
I imagine there would still be others that would perform some of the traditional role; however, this could be a part of the customer-centic mix. Which is where all of this leads in the end.