Role of Public Relations: Pat believed …

“If public relations is not involved, a major opportunity to promote the philosophy of relationships that motivate behavior will be abdicated to others. We have a responsibility to be as deeply committed & fully involved as possible -because relationships are the basic currency of public relations.” Pat Jackson

  • Pat believed that any profession exists only by public consent and that public relations provides an overriding social benefit when people have a voice. His ideal was Jeffersonian democracy. Public relations becomes a true profession when it brings people in touch with organizations, ideas and leaders. Every organization needs a person who can listen to what people are thinking and bring about harmonious relationships.
  • Harmony is an outcome of public relations practiced over a long time. On the way, there is room for conflict and conflict management. Harmony by itself, however, will not be effective unless it is part of a process of mutually beneficial behavior, such as buying products and coming to work. When real trust develops it is a sign that we have done our job properly. Trust arises from only one thing, and that is consistency. You can’t profess to have an open communication policy and then stonewall when there’s bad news.
  • Harmonious relationships -not just relations -fortified with trust require coauthorship, which was a favorite concept of Pat’s. It is the win-win idea, in contrast to the victory syndrome. An organization must become so close to its publics that its policies, products and stands on issues reflect the thoughts of key publics. (He seemed to prefer the word publics to stakeholders.) Don’t, however, pander to publics. Create enough understanding so they can participate in an organization’s thinking. Then tum some of the decision-making authority over to publics.
  • Pat criticized management schools for creating anti-human systems. It is the role of public relations to help overcome that tendency reminding managers that their communications role is to transmit not only information but emotions and intuition.
  • Pat wasn’t worried about being criticized for manipulation – didn’t Freud say life begins with manipulation (getting mother to feed you)? But he believed in going the whole way on the hierarchy of effects (one of his favorite models) to seek changes in behavior. Thus he spoke of behavioral public relations, an idea he continually pursued.
  • Public relations people need high self-esteem, not ego titillation. They rarely get praised, even if they deserve it. Our role is to serve as catalysts. Although we must have enough ego to achieve maximum impact, he strongly believed “if you need a lot of ego gratification, get out of PR.”
  • Pat said we should all be proud to be public relations practitioners. His life was dedicated to that belief. He once said he was glad pr reporter wasn’t just a business, but a mission. As its editor, he faithfully attended to each issue for 25 years and sought to advance new ideas of a field he saw as performing a vital social role.

— Otto Lerbinger, pr reporter publisher, professional colleague and friend writing in pr reporter September X, 2001.