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Professional Platform to Rethink the Journey to PR Leadership

Session presentation from PRSA International Conference 2013

Michael Kelly

on 10 July 2014

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Transcript of Professional Platform to Rethink the Journey to PR Leadership

There are hidden levels of communication and relationship building which are not commonly understood, limiting practice and results

There are hidden levels of professionalism which are not commonly understood, limiting practice and results
Perhaps the most important: Professionals are already on the same page, aligned at the mindset level. To the extent it's extended into their practice, they can use it to overcome huge barriers to build effective relationships between silos and between organizations.
Words, and the rules of putting words and thoughts together can get in the way of communicating meaning. When communications have low meaning, only loose, tenuous relationships result. When communications have strong meaning to the other party, it builds strong, resilient, relationships.

I am a PR person who practices PR professionally
I am a professional who practices PR
Which is potentially more powerful?
What We Found
Current PR Issues
Limited Role - just do this/order taker
Limited Access to Decision Makers
Limited respect for the role and what it takes to make relationships work

Have greater impact
Prove the value of what we do
Raise quality of our outcomes
Get a seat at the table
Understand the changing roles of PR/Communication and Marketing
The Power of Professionalism

How the Power of Professionalism applies to your problems and opportunities
What's Next?
What to do differently starts with how to think differently.
“As a crisis management professional, I've enjoyed meaning mapping for the following three reasons:

- It allows you to reflect upon certain elements of crisis management that we, as professionals within the field, sometimes take for granted.
For example: the process of getting from one thought process and procedure to another gets defined and reflected on in a way that we don't always take the time to do.

- It's a great visual to help others understand the importance and process of crisis management - especially for one's blog!

- The tool in itself is great for creating flow charts within clients' crisis management plans. However, it doesn't seem to work on a MAC, which was rather disappointing.”

Melissa Agnes
President of Melissa Agnes Crisis Management

"The Professionalism Initiative is the first useful and logical approach to elevating our mission and stature that I've seen in the more than 20 years I've been in the field. The framework developed by Michael Kelly and William Wiersma knits together concepts and concrete steps to ignite the fire we in public relations all need to know how to be professionals, show our supervisors and stakeholders how we are professionals, and assist those entering the field to become professionals."

The high likelihood is that you as a Professional
PR/Comm person can transform yourself and others around you to the extent you understand and appreciate the deeper meaning of being a professional and then identify with it.

And to the extent that your organization encourages the identity of all employees as professionals, the greater will be the transformation of your organization.

What are the steps to becoming better professionals?

Become familiar with the mindsets
Understand their meaning, in depth
Form an appreciation of their power by talking about how to use them, then by trying and learning

As you progress, you have to learn what to unlearn: what doesnt work anymore, what is no longer applicable, irrelevant. And give them up. Very hard. This needs help.

And you need to learn what to learn, what new skills are necessary to implement the transformation

How does communication change when you are a fully evoked professional?

How do your decisions change?
How does your life change?

Workshops with PRSA -SF
PRSA National Webinars
PRSA Tech Section Brown Bag via Steve Loudermilk
Reading/talking to PR/Comm Thought Leaders
(Murray, Grunig, Macnamara, others)
Studying PRSA, Page, Stockholm Accord, Melbourne Mandate
Many hours on PR/Comm LinkedIn Groups
and with Students and Professors
copyright Techtel/Wiersma
The Professional Platform
Better PR/Communication professionals would lead to:
Better Organizations
Better Connected
Better Decisions
Better Integrated, Inside and Outside
Wiersma and Associates © 2013

An entry-level individual contributor goes from one of the organization’s worst performers to one of the best. The CEO describes the experience—with this employee and others as well-- as surreal.

Increasing Sales
A Fortune 100 wins a multi-million dollar contract amidst intense competition. Professionalism on the part of the sales team proves to be difference-maker.

Executive Coaching
A once-belligerent, highly independent member of the CEO’s executive team is transformed into the top-notch leader his potential suggested he had all along. Think: executive coaching. The experience proves to be so profound it fundamentally changes how the CEO leads.

Changing strategic direction
A CEO changes the very purpose (think: mission) of their three-campus vocational school serving 1,000 students. Her decision is made easy after seeing the overwhelmingly positive reaction from students after the introduction of The Power of Professionalism into their curriculum by a visionary educator.

A CEO successfully recruits a much-sought-after executive to her executive team. The organization’s commitment to professional values tips the scale for the candidate.

Wiersma and Associates © 2013

Our approach: use professional values as a platform to transform people and organizations.

Wiersma and Associates © 2013

“There’s no greater compliment I can give you than by calling you a professional”. 

Jack Valenti, Longtime President of the Motion Picture Association of America

What to do differently starts with how to think differently

The central role of professionalism has not been fully appreciated, let alone understood well, by leaders.

Wiersma and Associates © 2013

“After 30 years of advising multi-generational family businesses in a myriad of industries throughout the world, I’ve learned that the most successful ones –the very select ‘A’ list---think differently.  The seven mind-sets identified by Bill Wiersma in The Power of Professionalism capture precisely how these champions of commerce think.”

Drew Mendoza, Managing Principal, Family Business Consulting Group

Great Companies Think Differently

Wiersma and Associates © 2013

Professionals have a bias for results.
Professionals realize (and act like) they’re part of something bigger than themselves.
Professionals know that things get better when they get better.
Professionals have personal standards that transcend organizational ones.
Professionals know personal integrity is all they’ve got.
Professionals aspire to be masters of their emotions; not enslaved by them.
Professionals aspire to reveal value in others.


Wiersma and Associates © 2013

Technical skills, while essential, are a bare minimum.

It is how one conducts oneself that defines whether they’re considered by others to be a trusted professional or not.

In short: Technical skills get you in the game. Conducting oneself professionally leverages one’s chances of winning the game.

Perspectives About Being A Trusted Professional

Wiersma and Associates © 2013

Think of people whom you respect and consider to be a consummate professional.

What did they DO to make them that way?

The Consummate Professional

Wiersma and Associates © 2013

That’s a question we posed to numerous senior executives.

Remarkably, we found few senior executives that could confidently express what it meant.

Most found it easy to define professionalism by its anti-thesis (by what it isn’t…typically prompted by a perceived violation of trust).

Be A Professional…But What Does That Mean?

" I am exploring Meaning Mapping as a way to keep track of all the fluid thoughts that “bubble up” when mapping out components of a communications plan. Whether using it individually or with a team, the tool helps me to capture key points, as well as random thoughts, in a self-styled, diagrammatic approach. It provides a great birds-eye view of the topic at hand, and has helped me to shape communications plans and create content maps such as outlining key messages which I can then morph into storylines or condense into tweets. I believe this tool will appeal to a wide audience since it explores concepts and meanings via words, but within a visual format—making it attractive to both “right-brain” and “left-brain” thinkers."
-Linda Marie Hunt-
Content Creation & Communications Consultant

Director, Professional Development, PRSA-San Francisco Chapter
... and in the process, have renewed belief in their ability to make a meaningful difference, gain respect and be invited to the strategy table
'Becoming a Better PR/Communication Professional'
Michael F Kelly mkelly@techtel.com
Bill Wiersma wiersmab@comcast.net
Outside-In POV
PRSA has a policy of opening discussion with Outsiders who have promising points of view for PRSA members.
We are Outsiders.

Barriers to getting our job done:
Desire to:
The Professionalism Initiative
Long Term PR Issues
We've found in PR and many other fields
Core problems of professionals are:

Need for Better Results

Apply to self, then bigger picture
'To what degree does 'professional' describe what its like to work in this department?'
'As a professional, to what degree are you proud of the work and products that you are delivering?'
'If professional values were given greater emphasis in this department, it would .....'
Change undesirable behavior:
The Power of the Professional Platform to drive results: Change Peoples' Thinking and Pos Outcome
Same principles can be used in PR
(What others
think of you.)
is said
What is
To have a significant effect on Reputation, PR/Comm must impact on what company does not just what is said.
Mindset 1 Bias for Results
Mindset 2 See/Impact Bigger Picture
Results: PR/C identified with greater impact greater value
What would normally happen?
Take the order?
The CEO wants his name in the paper...
(Silently spreads)
When does PR/C get called in?
When should PR/C be called in?
Mindset 1 Bias for Results
Mindset 2 Bigger picture
PR/C Role at the Table
Step outside practice
Step outside theory
Step outside assumptions

What's out there?
Networks of
people and organizations,
working together
for greater purposes
What should be the role of PR and Communications?

What should be different in your development?
Evolved from an outside view of PR and Communication
Systems Thinking, Management and Control Theory, Network Science, Semantics, Cognitive Science, etc.
Organization Design
Power of Professionalism

Thought Leaders add to what will be required of PR/Communications to adapt to the new world:

Impact the business outcomes, not just publics
Impact organization abilities internally
Move upstream towards strategy formulation and away from reaction, taking orders.
Become core and keeper of meaningful communication in the organization. No more fluff, jargon, low meaning communication.
Non centralized function: not every comm goes through Comm. Teach others.
Professional Development needs to include a mix of Mindsets and Skillsets, integrating a Professional Platform with existing PRSA programs for Professional Development.
Program Development for the Professional Platform as presented here today.
Deeper understanding
Tools and skills, including Meaning
Read the book, post the Mindsets
start using them. Help us develop and spread the practice.
'Bias for results, not just action':
'See/Be part of something greater'
The Initiative: Four months of research followed in 2013 to discover if The Professionalism Initiative, built on a Professionalism Platform, would work for PR and Communications
A few examples and how Professional mindsets One and Two rethink the approaches.
Needs to start here
at the table
Join Us Making a More Professional PR and
Communication Practice
Thanks! Mike and Bill
Questions to start the conversation
How - a brief look:
- Michael F Kelly
From the Gorkana interview with Brian Solis at PRSA International Conference 2013:

G: What would you change about the PR industry? Do you think it has a bad reputation? If so, how can they improve it?

BS: I would change everything about the PR industry. It starts with how the industry looks at itself and how it values itself. It is intentionally working against its own possibilities. The people who are involved in making decisions about its future, need to admit that they don’t understand what the future is. Admittance to the problem is half the battle. Once that step is taken, everything needs to be reinvented. The future of public relations has the opportunity to be brighter and more influential than it will ever be. Public relations is the natural umbrella for all of marketing and customer engagement. Everything is about public relations. We need to understand this opportunity and how to work with other people. We also need to be comfortable with stepping outside of everything we know to pursue a new comfort zone. The secret is that we are always in pursuit of it. Public relations has a tremendous opportunity and we need to recognize that where it is today is not where it should be.
Something's wrong here:
Communication professionals can't communicate the value of their work?
PR, defender of corp reputation, has a reputation problem?
The profession claims:
'We are valuable'
'We are important'

Bill Murray, President and COO, PRSA for his passion for professionalism in PRSA members and encouragement to develop and pursue the Initiative
Jim Grunig and Jim Macnamara for their very thoughtful reviews, encouragement and 'Most Important Issues for PR/Comm' lists.
Executives and members of the PRSA San Francisco Chapter who gave up a summer evenings to participate in the workshops which produced many of our insights into the real world challenges, needs, hopes and wonderful aspirations of PR/Communication professionals.
PRSA attendees at the Initiative Webinars
PRSA attendees at the Initiative Brown Bag for Tech Section
Melisssa Agnes President of Melissa Agnes Crisis Management for her work on Meaning Mapping of Crisis and Crisis management.
Michele Horaney (see below) for her Meaning Mapping of 'Respect' in PR and Communications
Linda Hunt for her work on developing Meaning Mapping training
Steve Loudermilk, who leads the PRSA Tech Section for encouragement and leadership in taking Professionalism to the next level.

Our most special thanks to Michele Horaney, Director of Professional Development, PRSA - San Francisco Chapter, President of Thought Leader PR

and of course, Judy Voss and the PRSA Professional Development Team

We hope this initiative surfaced the deep needs of PRSA members to become the best professionals who practice Public Relations and Communications. The world is in dire need for you to do so.

- Michael Kelly and Bill Wiersma
Thanks to all who participated in 'Rethinking the Journey to Public Relations Leadership,' the 'Initiative'
Every meeting, every attempt to teach, influence, entertain, enlighten, relies on effective communication and relationships to succeed

PR/Comm sees its role as a small part of this
Every PR/Communication Professional must be challenged to understand that they are no less than the leading edge in overcoming the primary limits to human progress.

We have a challenge for PR and Communication Professionals
Ask 'What will be the result of 'CEO name in paper' for the co?'
What if you apply the first two Mindsets of the Professional:
Take this as a teaching moment for the CEO. Ask the CEO what result would be expected from this action. Get the CEO thinking like you think. You may still have to get the CEOs name in the paper... but are making a start in making the company more effective.
By the end of this today, we want you to think: 'Better professionalism is a powerful answer to many of my problems.'
About BEING, not doing/
BEing transcends doing
doing is a by product of being

Overarching theme being is a higher order than doing.
And mind sets are ? about being.
getting to the gist is hard
Professionalism is different from what is commonly thought

Mindset: Current
Results achieved by communication
Mindset: Better Professional
Results achieved by better company behavior
Professionals have a bias for results beyond themselves
Professionals impact what companies do, not just what they say.
Professionals have a bias for results beyond themselves
Professionals impact what companies do, not just what they say.
Mindsets needed to know how to think and what to do
Skillsets needed to know how to do it

What I say
What I do
Who I am
How I See The World
'The Professionalism Initiative'
PRSA-SF Brown Bag
From PR/Com
What Else is There to Consider?
What You Do
What You Say
How You Think
Who You Are
Usual Professional Development:
Improve what you can do: skills
Add soundview papers
A group of professionals
Challenges, Expectations

Better Professionals?
Change your thinking
Change your results
Change your organization

(failure to communicate, not invented here, silos, politics, short-sightedness, apathy - the stuff that kills ideas and solutions.
Full transcript