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社交媒体崛起,公关有望翻身

Gregory Galant 2012年11月19日

公关界一直不如广告界那么受重视。广告人甚至有《广告狂人》这样以他们为主角的电视剧,公关人却没有这种待遇。更重要的是,公关行业获得的预算也比广告行业少。但是,社交媒体的崛起有望改变这种状况。公关行业也有望迎来春天。

    无论是作为一项商业职能,还是一门职业,公关都不怎么受重视。市场研究机构eMarketer和美国公共关系协会(PRSA)各自发布的数据显示,美国公司每年在广告上投入1,500亿美元,在公关上仅投入50亿美元。薪酬网站PayScale的计算也显示,广告专业人士比公关同行多挣达75%。基本上所有的MBA项目都提供广告课程,但据美联社(Associated Press)报道,只有约20%提供公关课程。在大众文化中,广告人被赋予强人特征,就像《广告狂人》(Mad Men)的主角唐·德雷柏一样,凭借神来之笔“人生旋转木马”(Carousel)成功赢得柯达(Kodak)幻灯机的项目, 而公关人就像《欲望都市》(Sex and the City)里的萨曼莎·琼斯,似乎除了靠举办聚会为生,别的什么也干不了。

    但是,如果人们关注影响决策的机制,他们就会知道,公关至关重要。

    没人比史蒂夫·乔布斯更懂得这一点,他就像关心产品设计一样,亲自过问公关事宜。《华尔街日报》(The Wall Street Journal)《莫博士信箱》专栏作者沃尔特·莫斯博格回忆称:“1997年,(乔布斯)重新出任【苹果公司(Apple)首席执行官)刚几天,就开始往我家打电话。每星期天晚上都打,连续打了四、五个礼拜。”莫斯博格表示,乔布斯的周日电话“是马拉松式谈话,一谈就是90分钟,属于涉猎广泛的私人探讨。”

    乔布斯关注的不只是《华尔街日报》。前科技网站Gizmodo撰稿人布莱恩·兰姆·沃尔特声称也收到过乔布斯的私人邮件,还和他通过电话。然而,Gizmodo后来购买了一部丢失的iPhone 4原型机,引发争议。随后,这样的沟通就终止了。

    乔布斯传记作者沃尔特·艾萨克森在传记中解释说:“电视广告和媒体评测文章是史蒂夫·乔布斯谋划推出新产品时的两个首要考虑因素。借着它们的帮助,他的新产品推出似乎成了世界历史上具有划时代意义的时刻。”

    公关只会越来越更重要。风投公司安德森-霍罗维茨风险投资公司(Andreessen Horowitz)最近任命业内几乎闻所未闻的公关人士玛吉特·温马彻斯担任公司合伙人。【这家风投公司的联合创始人马克·安德森曾创立网景(Netscape),并摘得2012年《福布斯》(Forbes)杂志最佳创投人排行榜(Midas List)榜眼。】

    如果公关这么重要,为什么它不受重视?

    为什么公关不是企业优先考虑的事项?下面是我与很多首席执行官、营销人士和记者探讨后了解到的情况:

    公关效果无法跟踪。有媒体报道是件好事,但传统上没有办法了解媒体报道对企业利润有多少影响。如果要了解公关投入金额多少如何影响报道的数量和广度,难度就更大了。

    这行在记者中名声不好。自从发明了电子邮件,给记者发送不相关的垃圾邮件变得太容易了。懒惰的公关人员可以利用软件随意向记者们发送大批邮件,大大损害了这行的名声。

    Public relations is not taken seriously as a function of business or as a profession. US companies spend $150 billion annually on advertising and only $5 billion on public relations, according to eMarketer and PRSA respectively. Advertising professionals make up to 75% more than their PR counterparts, as calculated from PayScale data. While virtually all MBA programs offer courses in advertising, the Associated Press reported only 20% offer a course in public relations. In popular culture ad execs are immortalized with powerful characters like Mad Men's Don Draper who positions Kodak's slide projector for success in part by singlehandedlychristening it the "Carousel", while PR execs are portrayed by characters like Sex and the City's Samantha Jones who seem to do nothing but throw parties for a living.

    Yet anyone who pays attention to how decisions are influenced knows that public relations is tremendously important.

    No one understood this better than Steve Jobs who was as personally involved in public relations as he was in product design. The Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg recounted that "within days of [Jobs's] return [as CEO of Apple], in 1997, he began calling my house, on Sunday nights, for four or five straight weekends." Mossberg went on that Jobs' Sunday calls "turned into marathon, 90-minute, wide-ranging, off-the-record discussions".

    Jobs's attention wasn't limited to the Wall Street Journal. Former Gizmodo writer Brian Lam Waltertold similar stories of personal emails and calls with Jobs, though that came to an end after Gizmodo controversially bought a missing iPhone 4 prototype.

    Walter Isaacson explained in his biography that "The television ad and the frenzy of press preview stories were the first two components in what would become the Steve Jobs playbook for making the introduction of a new product seem like an epochal moment in world history."

    Public relations is only becoming more important. Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz (its cofounder Marc Andreessen of Netscape fame ranked second on the 2012 Forbes Midas List) recently named PR executive Margit Wennmachers as a full partner, which was practically unheard of in the venture industry.

    If public relations is important, why isn't it taken seriously?

    Having talked with many CEOs, marketing executives and journalists, these are the reasons I hear for why PR has not been a business priority:

    PR's not trackable. It's nice to get covered, but traditionally there's no way to know how that coverage effected the bottom line. It's even more challenging to track how the amount of money spent on PR effects the amount and reach of coverage.

    The profession has a bad reputation with journalists. With the invention of email it becameterribly easy to spam journalists with irrelevant messages. This was enabled by software designed to make it easy to mass email journalists and lazy PRs who took advantage of it, which deeply hurt the profession's reputation.

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