Paul Holmes: I wrote about it, but I never worked a single day in PR

Festivals & Awards, PR

Paul Holmes, founder and writer on The Holmes Report and Chairman of Sabre Awards jury, said, during a meeting with the Romanian representatives of the PR industry, that no country had Romania’s success at Sabre Awards, appreciating that PR activities from the local industry “is exceptional”.

Paul Holmes came to Romania at The Practice’s initiative, after the Romanian agency won the main tropht at Sabre Awards 2008, Platinum for ‘Best PR Program of the Year”.

In the debut of his meeting with Romanian PR industry’s representatives, Paul Holmes said:

I wrote about PR but I haven’t worked one single day in the public relations sector

Still, during the 20 years he spent writing about PR, his opinion on the industry got to be respected everywhere in the world and any specialized agency aims to be in the report he publishes annually, “The Holmes Report”.

About the Romanian PR industry, Holmes said “the best work from Romania is as good as any work in Europe or the world” and appreciated that Romanian PR industry’s activity is excepptional.

Paul Holmes’ statement related to Romania’s success at Sabre Awards was proved by the performances achieved by Romanian agencies at this year’s edition: Platinum for The Practice, Sabres for Rogalski Grigoriu, 2 awards for GMP PR and one for McCann PR.

During the awards ceremony, Holmes said, on the stage: “I advise those in the room that want to open a PR agency in Romania to think it well. Romania is, in this moment, the most creative and most competitive European market. From what we saw in this competition, you’d fight with some of the best PR agencies in Europe and you would fail”

During Bucharest meeting, Holmes made an analysis of the international PR industry in present, with focus on the importance PR have within companies from strategic point of view and the opportunity that the development of digital offers to the sector.

According to Holmes, we live in a period of time when PR has a real value, having a strategic function within companies, even if their responsibles are using public relations only at 10% from what’s actually needed. Still, Holmes said there is a bigger and bigger number of situations in which coordinating PR activities from companies doesn’t go to specialists in the sector, but is entrusted to marketing people, legal matters specialists or even to advertising or management consultant agencies.

Holmes also underlined the fact that the international economical crisis boosts PR and warned that PR nowadays is made in a “transparency era”, when companies are under scrutiny from general public, charity and environment organizations or media. Moreover, according to Holmes, PR specialists are running their activities in a branding space totally different compared to the past. This way, Holmes mentioned that, 10 years ago, a brand was defined by its advertising, promotions, PR and other specific activities, with the company being the one that created brand’s image; in present, the brand is controlled by consumers and is what they think it is, not what the company wishes it to be.

Paul Holmes also talked about the opportunities the PR specialists have as a consequence of the development of digital channels, especially social networks, that determine reactions related to brands both online and offline, especially due to the “word-of-mouth”. Holmes mentioned that, in the past, journalists were the ones relaying brands’ messages but, as digital developed, “we have no reason not to do so with everyone”, especially with the people present on social networks, that are factors who contribute to spreading brand’s message.

In Paul Holmes’ opinion, the real value of PR is represented by the courage to give up control over the brand and let someone else to relay its message, an action that brings credibility to the brand. According to him, credibility and control are opposed many times, less control being translated in more credibility. Moreover, Holmes underlined the fact that we live in an era when “control is an illusion”.

Related to PR’s neuralgic points, he mentioned the fact that women that work in the field leave it when they are around 35 y.o. because of the lack of balance between personal and professional life, appreciating this problem could be solved with a more flexible program for them.

Another minus Paul Holmes saw when it comes of PR is that some specialists are very good when it comes of communication, but have serious problems in understanding business. He appreciates that, in a company, the PR specialist must be a part of the decision making process, along with the CEO, COO and CFO, but this is only possible if that person has also knowledge related to sales mechanics, legislation matters, location building and other important processes within a firm.

On another hand, Holmes underlined the fact that Public Relations need integrity, especially when it comes of reflecting brands in media, considering paid PR looses its value and can be done by anyone, without generating real benefits to the brand. Also, he thinks PR needs courage and appreciates that a PR consultant must have the courage to tell clients what they don’t want to hear when it comes of decision with serious impact.

Paul Holmes is the editor of The Holmes Report, an electronic product for international PR industry. He has over 20 years of experience in covering matters related to the PR industry both in Europe and United States. Holmes is Chairman Sabre Awards and publishes, annually, The Holmes Report, that presents the profile  of the best 150 PR agencies in the world