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Out of the shadows

We live in turbulent times when fact is becoming stranger than fiction and we are surprised every time when hear a news update. One thing is clear and that is the role of the communicator is needed more now than ever before. In virtually every situation that hits the headlines you can see a communication failure or where events could have been improved. But why aren’t we using opportunities to talk about communication and PR?

For years we have recognised the need to explain what PR is and how it can benefit our lives yet we consistently fail to address this. I understand the belief that if communicators are making the headlines then something has gone wrong but it doesn’t mean that we have to keep silent all the time.

There are many occasions in the last 12 months that I have felt the need to speak about the role of communication either through my blog or the industry publications. However, this still fails to take the discussion into the mainstream and now more than ever the public need to understand the PR and communication industry. They need to recognise when there is an urgent or emergency message that is being shared. They need to understand how to navigate the ‘fake news’ on social media. They need to know how businesses and organisations are trying to reach them to do many things including improving products and services.

PR has long been seen as a dark art. Something that happens behind the scenes and out of the spotlight and for many people this brings a lack of trust in what it is. So why don’t we plug the gap and explain it in the right context? The only time we come out of the shadows is when something has gone wrong and that just adds to the negative perception of the industry.

There are many documentaries following all kinds of professions and organisations and yet no-one ever focuses on the work of the PR and communication people. Interviews with PR professionals only happen when someone or something in the industry is under attack. Perhaps the time is right for us to start to open up what we do to a wider audience. Through greater transparency and accountability we can highlight the good work, show the ethical framework that exists, and encourage young people to consider a career in the industry.

The question is who will step forward out of the shadows?