Proud to be in PR?

There are few questions I dread more than "what do you do for a living?". I will do almost anything to avoid admitting ...

January 21, 2005

There are few questions I dread more than “what do you do for a living?”.

I will do almost anything to avoid admitting that I’m in public relations.


Because the profession of public relations has long ceased to be about the public, and long ceased to be about relations. It would be far better described as MT – or media transactions.

All I want to do is take PR back to basics – care for the health of the human relationships which determine the long-term survival of organisations – or any community come to that.

The alternative PR ideology that I believe in can be summarised as mutual marketing – the matching-up of value demands between disparate individuals and groups in interdependent networks.

How? By recruiting, facilitating and then nurturing communities of aligned interest on mutualist principles: i.e. voluntary, participatory and interdependent.

In this parallel world, purposeful social and psychological bonds between human beings would gradually supplant the bludgeoning, autocratic brands of today.

I confess it’s a political and social, as well as a marketing vision. These things cannot be separated…Mutual marketing is a tool of sustainability, just as branding is a tool of consumption.

In a world where the effective utilisation of common resources will be the primary global concern, I believe that mutualism may be the only viable future. Keep your eyes open, and mutual marketing experiments are springing up all over the place, in the most unlikely places.

e.g. When IBM recently gave away 500 patents to the open source community, it was, however unwittingly embracing mutual marketing. In doing so, it catalysed the creation of new innovation networks. It sparked dozens of new collaborative conversations. It unbundled what had previously been jealously guarded corporate assets, and empowered thousands of individuals to seek and find new reasons to connect…

So, with this hidden personal agenda – seeking innovative ways to substantively improve corporate relationships – I am actually proud to call myself a PR man. Just don’t tell anyone I said so.

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