Having a background and expertise in public relations is not typical of strategic planning facilitators. Yet, the profession is well-suited to it.
Despite the common perception that public relations is about publicity, the profession goes far beyond that.
At its core, the practice of public relations::
• Builds mutually beneficial relationships with all those audiences (publics) on which an organization relies to fulfill its mission.
• Anticipates, researches, analyzes and interprets the opinions, attitudes, and issues that might impact the organization’s plans and actions.
• Takes into account public and internal ramifications of actions and the organization’s social responsibilities.
A critical factor in strategic planning is stakeholder input. Organizations must consider audiences other than donors and program recipients. It must consider all those it relies on to fulfill its mission: legislators, competitors, partners, suppliers, or even intercessory audiences. PR professionals have led in the areas of audience segmentation and research for decades.
PR’s ability to look around corners to anticipate issues is a part of thinking strategically. Clear Wisdom Public Relations and Consulting believes that developing strategic thinking is just as vital, if not more so, than creating a plan. A solid plan includes research-based goals and a defined approach, tactical steps to be taken, and details on how success measures. This more comprehensive approach helps keep the plan from becoming a “dustable” item on a shelf. Using a process that builds strategic thinking, the organization is left better prepared to nurture and evolve its plan as it progresses.
Public relations practice is based firmly on communication theories and social science. Robert Austin, APR, is one of just over 5,000 professionals in the United States to have earned accreditation in the practice of public relations by the Universal Accreditation Board of the Public Relations Society of America. This credential asserts professional competence, expertise, and ethical practice in the profession.