Public Relations 2.0: 6 principles that remain current and 4 new ideas

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Editor’s note: Today we welcome as author on our blog Cristina Aced (@blogocorp), who will discuss communication 2.0 and social media. We are delighted to have her join us. Thanks, Cristina!

There are six principles that any communication manager must obey:

1. Tell the truth.
2. Prove it with action.
3. Listen to the customer.
4. Manage for tomorrow.
5. Conduct PR activities as if the whole company depends on it.
6. Remain calm, patient and good-humored.

In fact, these tips are not mine, they are from Arthur W. Page, who was vice-president of public relations for the American Telegraph and Telephone (AT&T) and contributed to the development of modern public relations. Page was one of the first to join a company as an officer of communications, a usual practice nowadays.

He established these basic principles at the start of the 20th century, although they could have been written today. It is a good example that shows the bases of corporate communication are still the same and illustrates the need to know the past in order to understand the present (and the future).

In public relations, there are aspects that are still applicable from their origins, but there are also others that change (as I explain in my book Relaciones públicas 2.0. Cómo gestionar la comunicación corporativa en el entorno digital). Undoubtedly, the Internet and social media draw a new communication scenario, characterized by:

  • Conversation. Nowadays, the roles of emitter and recipient interchange constantly. Companies have to stop seeing themselves as simply emitters of contents and start to listen actively to their audiences on the Internet.
  • Open collaboration. As Pierre Lévy says, “no one knows it all, but everyone knows something”, and the new digital platforms facilitate this exchange of knowledge. Zyncro lets you create enterprise social networks that encourage collaborative work.
  • Economy in our attention. We live surrounded by an excess of information. For example, every minute 72 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. The difficulty lies not in having a presence on the Internet, but capturing users’ attention.
  • New intermediaries. Social media lets you reach the audience directly (fantastic for the communicator!) However, new gatekeepers have appeared: social tools. As Eli Pariser explains, we live in a filter bubble. Both Google and Facebook apply filters to the contents we receive and often we are unaware of them. For example, in Facebook we see the updates of the people we have “liked” the most before those with whom we have never interacted.

As we can see, the social web offers new communication opportunities, and public relations professionals need to be ready to take advantage of them. Yet without forgetting the basic principles of a good communicator: honesty, truthfulness, empathy… As Arthur W. Page established at the beginning of the 20th century.

Cristina Aced (@blogocorp) is a journalist and communication and public relations consultant. She has specialized in the digital area and has published several books on the topic. Her most recent one is Relaciones públicas 2.0. Cómo gestionar la comunicación corporativa en el entorno digital (Editorial UOC). She collaborates as a lecturer at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, the Open University of Catalonia, and at the Universitat Abat Oliba, among others. Since 2006 she has been writing at Blog-o-corp.