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Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Reverse Engineering of Public Relations 

As you know, every “serious” action in the corporate world is tagged as being “strategic”, i.e. it is intended to contribute to a corporate vision. A strategic action is then the product of the following process:
1) Environmental scan (a SWOT analysis most of the time)
2) Strategic planning
3) Operational planning
4) Action

This process is usually well documented in large corporations but is most of the time kept secret because of its competitive value. It is even kept secret inside the corporation and employees are only told what they must know. The same is true for stakeholders and clients. The secrecy of strategic planning creates an illusion of control and value for something that does not have value in itself. What corporations don’t seem to realize is that it is very easy to deduce their strategic goals only by looking at the corporate images they are trying to create.

Public relations and marketing are obviously produced by the strategic planning process mentioned above. Then, only by looking at the values and identity a corporation is trying to create in its TV ads for instance, we can easily identify its critical weaknesses and concerns because they are what the corporation is trying to overcome with the ads. When, for example, a large Canadian bank’s advertisement is presenting 3 or 4 employees and name them by their first names, I think we can deduce that it has a serious problem of service depersonalization. Simple enough. But if you ask that same bank if it has a depersonalization problem, the answer will likely be a rhetoric about how important are customer relationships at bank X.

Why don’t corporations just tell it as it is instead of trying to lure the public and themselves with an illusion of control? I have confidence that the public is smart enough to decipher corporations’ public relations and really understand, past the ads, the true nature of the corporations they are doing business with.

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