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
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.