The Value of Public Relations

3740056023_d04af5da27_mI have to admit I got caught up in the conversations on Twitter regarding Kim Kardashian and her new reality show about the world of public relations. The comments on Twitter ranged from “This is tragic for PR” to “Publicity does not equal public relations.”  My immediate concern was that public relations would be portrayed the wrong way. Kim even stated in the People Magazine article, “It’s going to be really fun. It’ll show how there’s lots of drama and crisis in the PR world.”  Crisis…yes, but we’d prefer to minimize the drama.

Here are a few of the tweets that PR professionals found out about Kim’s new show:

@GuthrieMayesPR: Not sure how I feel about Kim Kardashian‘s plans to produce a reality TV show about PR… what do other PR pros think?

@oukristyn: Blah! RT @sparklegem: Ughck. Kim Kardashian producing reality show about public relations (expand)

@joshnetzer: No, no, no! RT @blively: This could be bad for PR – reality show coming out about PR – prod. by Kim Kardashian! (expand)

Lesley3fold: New reality show set to debut about public relations, produced by Kim Kardashian. (expand) (So, so silly. Really?)

whafen: Ugh, what a mess @valleyprblog @abbief Kim Kardashian producing reality show about public relations (expand)

If this “could be bad” for public relations, which is yet to be determined, then what’s good for PR?  Well, I think it’s to immediately highlight the true value of PR, which is so much more than publicity.  It’s an important management function that brings tremendous value to a company.  PR is responsible for the communication, connections and relationships it builds with the public on behalf of a brand. PR in its simplest form is best known for establishing, nurturing and promoting great relationships, whether it’s with the media, members of the community, employees of the organization, analysts, government or any other company stakeholder that leads to long term value.

There are so many great PR efforts by brands every day.  So, why are we talking about Kim Kardashian and her reality show on Twitter?  I want to share some good PR. I was recently enlightened by the efforts of Disney’s Corporate Responsibility program when I attended the FPRA Conference in Boca Raton.  Eugene Campbell, Director of Community Relations, spoke about the company’s outreach and efforts to build community.  Disney has several areas of PR focus including parents/children, content/products, environment, community and workplaces.

I was especially impressed with the relationships that Disney builds with the public by:

  • Partnering with parents and using their support to guide Disney’s’ thinking with respect to children’s entertainment and to aide in the creation of safe environments for children, i.e., Club Penguin, which is a snow covered virtual world where children can hang out with their friends and play games.
  • Becoming a part of a children’s health and nutrition movement by announcing new food guidelines for Disney parks and resorts which help parents who are faced with nutritional challenges.  Disney educates children on its website,, a place where children can learn about the food pyramid.
  • Getting involved with environmental issues with policies that focus on water and energy conservation, Green House Gas emissions (GHG), waste minimization and ecosystem conservation.  For instance, on Leap Day 2008, The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund (DWCF) presented a $250,000 donation to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Amphibian Fund, an organization that supports the breeding and protection of hundreds of amphibian species.
  • Contributing to organizations, communities and causes around the world with cash donations in excess of more than $41 million, product donations of over $42 million and other in kind donations amounting to approximately $126 million.

Disney is only one example of many. I think we should be focused and spotlighting the good PR that we see from brands and their PR professionals, in support of the public.  What are some of the positive PR contributions you’ve seen lately?  We need to hear and discuss what’s good about our industry!