Public Relations  - 
 
OK, its Friday and time for some heavy stuff.

Its the Lisbon Theory. Who signs up to it? 

It is not long ago, that every single one of us thought Grunig had the answer on how to achieve the best practice in Public Relations: the “two way symmetrical communication” model is often referred to as the “excellence model” in Public Relations education and is said to be the height of PR excellence.

This model suggested that communication can be used to promote mutual understanding and respect between the organization and its stakeholders. It almost sounded too good to be true, communication based on mutual feedback from the audiences that would benefit an organisation greatly. 
However, with the development of social media and consequent evolution of the PR profession this theoretical concept has been put into a different perspective. 

Truth is, nowadays the significant discourse is not between an organisation and its stakeholders, but between ‘organisational constituents’ themselves.

They are having conversations between each other and these conversations are now public, and anyone can access them. People are commenting about organisations and brands with little to no reference to the organisation or brand.

Audiences are now part of an ecosystem of brand values that are not much influenced by organisations, but are influential. The audiences don’t have to be very engaged with the organization anymore, but they have to share similar values. 

The Lisbon Theory  provides the basis for next generation public relations.

It is a form of PR predicated on the perspective of a person or (online) community perspective.

Its basic building block, values, are evident in the semantic web at all its intersections and it forms the basis for all public relations subject to digitally networked communication.

Network communications is different to traditional vertical communication (e.g. newspapers). At every intersection, there is a negotiation (Blumler) as to whether the author (or sharer) and the reciever will exchange value based information.

Therefore, if organisations can’t influence or control what people are saying about them, and there is no longer segmentation on specific messages due to the openness of social media, how can brands survive?

Organisations need to find where consumers and opinion formers are by researching their values. Those (semantic) values can be found with the aid of tools like AdWords brought to us by new technology engineers like Google, Bing, Blekko etc. 

So we can conclude that the perspectives of people are evident in what they contribute and  the information they seek and, notably, the (semantic) keywords they use in web search. It is here where they expose their values.
 
In the past, segmentation was about issues (Grunig) or Stakeholders (Freedman), now it is about the perspectives (values) of individuals.

They only form segments when they share a nexus of values with each other. Or, put another way have a ‘community perspective’.

The good thing is that these tools are available to everyone from the multinational organization to the local charity, they can all maximize their performance by researching all the values attached to their assets.

Now little people can do big things.

Using the Lisbon Theory PR Practitioners

Observe  events from the value perspective of many constituencies, organisations and cultures
Undertake activity that compliment the value perspectives of constituencies, organisations and cultures 
Identify future, present or past  extent of effects of activity on value  perspectives of constituencies, organisations and cultures 
Measure objectives or objects from value perspectives of constituencies, organisations and cultures
This is how they establish change or variance in the significance of values.


We could reduce this to an explanation as simple as:

"From the perspective (v) of an entity (n) to what extent (e) is this object (o) significant (s).

 In application, one might evaluate PR activities thus


From the perspective of the citizen, to what extent is democracy valuable?
From the perspective of the organisation, to what extent is the threat of new competition significant to its future?
From the perspective of the marketing director, to what extent is public relations a contributor to sales?

There is more work to be done. This is a huge challenge to the Satus Quo.

In the meantime, you can look at some of the slide shows on this topic http://www.slideshare.net/dphillips4363/future-pr
http://www.slideshare.net/dphillips4363/online-communication-trends
http://www.slideshare.net/dphillips4363/after-2015-pr-is-changed

Thank you to Philip Young, Nuno da Silva Jorge, Nawal Leon Kurson and all those peopel who have helped to devlop this theary over the years.
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Mat Morrison's profile photoDavid Phillips's profile photo
4 comments
 
Much material for thought here. Only one premise I'd question: 

> Now little people can do big things.

That may be one simplification too far: and it's one that undermines a great deal of thinking in this space. Moreover, it has led to an overreaction to the things little people do and say.

It's clearly true that it's easier for the ordinary person to publish, distribute, build consensus. And its true that big things have been done by little people.

And yet the truth is that if we divide the number of big things done by the number of little people doing things, we find that the quotient approaches zero. Most little people continue to have little impact; and we need to recognise this.

It's a bit like the successful startups divided by entrepreneurs calculation.

We also need to understand some of the preconditions for success in those cases where something has happened. I'd suggest that -- in a majority of cases (caveat: I have no data, nor any good idea of how to collect those data) -- in a majority of cases, success has been preconditioned on catching the attention of the traditional media.

None of this really takes away from the main thrust of your argument. I want to give that more thought, though.
 
There is s great deal in what you say but there are some other points of view.

Using Google's survey service means a small PR agency in Bath, can  run and afford to run a global survey; identifying the values that attach to a 'consumer group' would have been a multi £'000 job before Google Adwords; a private vertical search engine was a coding ans capacity challenge for all but the biggest organisations until Blekko came along. The list is big and suggests that some of the advantages that big organisations enjoyed only a short time ago have vanished.

The really big issue here is the capability of, for example CIPR to raise the education and knowledge levels of its members to be able to take advantage of such capabilities.

Ignorance among PR people is no defence. This, surely is what CPD is all about.
 
Ah -- I misread your statement, and foolishly assumed it was a version of the "consumer is in control" Cluetrain-y idealism. 

However, I couldn't agree more with what you actually meant. Shows you I'd not read your whole argument properly...
 
And I need to re-learn how to be explicit.
I fear few can see the digital tsunami. I realise that the UK Government is letting the side down (wet string instead of broadband and napped-flint trader routes instead of 4G) but when they really need to use it to get elected, the digital world may get a little boost. After all, it is only in the top three UK economic drivers with a first year ROI of 500% and annual compound growth of digital traffic of 37%. Oddly enough, that figure rings a bell. In total, U.S. consumers spent 121bn minutes on social media sites in July this year, a surge of 37% year-on-year. And the majority of that was driven by mobile, as consumers increased their usage of social mobile apps and websites by 63% this year.
 
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