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Alison Theaker*: “It is important to make sure that professionals do not over-promise what can be achieved - PR can only give you the reputation you deserve” « CIPR Students Blog
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Alison Theaker*: “It is important to make sure that professionals do not over-promise what can be achieved - PR can only give you the reputation you deserve”

March 1st 2011
Тази статия част от Interview

Interview by Yasen Tsenkov

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alison pic 207x300 Alison Theaker*: It is important to make sure that professionals do not over promise what can be achieved   PR can only give you the reputation you deserveOn 12th and 13th of February our CIPR Diploma students had their second lecturing session, this time with Alison Theaker, one of  the developers of the qualification program of the CIPR’s Diploma and Advanced Certificate and writer of the popular Public Relations Handbook. As a listener to the lecturing sessions I have to admit that we had a very intense 2 days of teaching and learning and that everybody were very involved in the process. After the lectures I asked Alison for an interview and here it is…two weeks later.

 

Alison, thank you again for the great weekend in Sofia! What are your thoughts about our students? Did you find any difficulties working with them?

The students were great! They were really willing to engage with the theory and apply it to their own organizations. They were also very patient with me and translated the lunch menu due to my non-existent knowledge of Bulgarian!

 

You presented several great tools for strategic planning such as Porter’s Five Forces, PESTEL and the Virtue Matrix. Which of these tools you consider most important in 2011 and why?

I think the Virtue Matrix will gain in importance as organizations try and find more ways to differentiate themselves from each other. It also provides clues as to why some CSR initiatives don’t give an organization as much kudos as they expect - if these initiatives are already within the civil foundation and are expected by their stakeholders.  The latest version of the European Communication Monitor suggested that PR practitioners across Europe expect CSR to gain in importance over the next 5 years.

 

What are the things that PR professionals forget most often at the expense of achieving communication goals? Do you think that one of the problems of specialists today is their impatience?

Sometimes they are asked to solve problems that are not communication problems, but rather organizational culture problems. It is important to make sure that professionals do not over-promise what can be achieved - PR can only give you the reputation you deserve.  I don’t find communication specialists impatient, but sometimes they can focus on the task or tactics at the expenses of overview or strategy.

 

Everybody today talks about the impact of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube on the way PR professionals do campaigns. Would you explain briefly why you think social media did not change the basic PR models that communicators used before?

I agree with Paul Holmes that if you were practicing good PR before the age of social media, you are still practicing good PR now. Paying attention to the attitudes of stakeholders, getting the message out and letting publics make up their own mind, engaging in dialogue, all these were important before we were able to do this directly through social media. They are great channels for reaching specific audiences, but they don’t change the nature of PR.

 

What is your most favorite PR campaign and why?

It is hard to pick one, but I am still impressed by the Nambarrie Tea company case study that I used in the first three editions of the Public Relations Handbook. This was an example where an organization researched which organization it should support - Action Cancer - based on its customer base - women aged 25-45 in Northern Ireland. After the campaign they were able to demonstrate both that they had raised more money for the charity than it had done before, plus raised favourable impressions and sales for the company.

 

The first exam for our CIPR students is on its way - Critical Reasoning Test. Tell us some important tip/secret for achieving a good result on it.

The most important thing is to read the question and make sure that your answer covers what is being asked.  There are often clues like - discuss, compare - plus make sure that you have answered all the elements.  Be clear and make sure that you demonstrate your reasoning. It is not important to try and think what the “right” answer is (in PR there is rarely one right answer anyway) but to argue your case logically using supporting evidence from a wide range of reading.  Good luck all of you!

 

Students and Alison

Students and Alison

 See more photos on Flickr.

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* Alison Theaker has 25 years experience in public relations and management as a practitioner, academic and author. Alison has excellent interpersonal and organisational skills and expertise in copywriting, editing, in-house PR, and freelance journalism. She is author of the The Public Relations Handbook, a standard text in PR. Co-ordinator of the first SW PR practitioners Conference, Behind the Spin,in 2006. As the first Head of Education for the CIPR, built a bridge between practice and education in PR.

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  1. Eva Shirokova каза:

    Wonderful interview- well done Yassen :)

    I love this one: “It is important to make sure that professionals do not over-promise what can be achieved - PR can only give you the reputation you deserve.” How simple and so true!

    As we know very often the clients said (in Bulgaria, i’m not sure how it is abroad)”Make me a PR!”. What does that mean? We cannot “make a PR”, we could communicate the policy of a person or organisation in the best way - that’s how we do it.

  2. yasen каза:

    Thank you, Eva!
    I think that in an interview it is essential that your guest is willing to share knowledge. Alison really gave us some answers to think about.

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