What’s the Role of Advocacy in PR? Here Are Some Insights—& an Imperative to Act

Courtney LukitschBy Courtney Lukitsch, Founder and Principal, Gotham PR

We in PR are confronted daily with clients that do not necessarily understand what our profession stands for—or what our purview even is. The fact is, it is more important this year than perhaps any other since the founding of the profession to set the industry record absolutely straight.

PR pros do indeed maintain ethical responsibilities under the umbrella of their respective practice. Legal due diligence, fact checking and representation of the truth is paramount. This has always has been the case.

A thoughtful definition of advocate is stated forthrightly on Wikipedia as someone who speaks or acts in support of another person and recommends another or a cause publicly. Additionally, asserting that the premise behind an advocate can even be traced back to scholarly writings from the great Aristotle. A modern-day advocate, a public relations practitioner if you will, acts as a champion for causes and organizations alike.

Advocacy definition

While advocating on behalf of a client, additional factors contribute to the overall success of PR. Perception is one aspect, and ideally it will always be in alignment with reality. It is imperative to mention that having a rational voice to look to, is also a fundamental element.

A reliable source, a truthful narrator, a persuasive set of arguments based on fact, a solution to a public-facing challenge—as well as compelling evidence—all contribute to a great story.

It is the expert PR practitioner who is a skilled strategic and creative tactician that unites client advocacy and public interest. As someone who has a voice, it must be backed by solid facts and a clear rationale. It’s a matter of integrity.

There is an important distinction to be made when dealing with a specialized form, as succinctly outlined here in a Forbes article regarding the importance of being able to identify a real PR professional from those who may be inauthentic. Emphasizing the prominence of both intellectual honesty as well as curiosity, it pays to keep your own expertise in perspective. Furthermore, being mindful of how and when information is being shared helps to qualify the credibility of an advocate and hopefully filters out those that are not fit to advise.

Forbes also explores the importance of advocacy in PR for brands, firms and organizations; each on a mission to promote a unique value proposition. The PR team is often the initial and final arbiter of brand management. The most talked about brands are those that create an intimate and very personal connection with their consumers. In other words, those that are able to promote brand advocacy. Cited as one of the most beneficial functions, PR professionals must do the same for their clients. Additionally, it must not be forgotten that we are our own advocates as well.

At Gotham PR, we have enjoyed the privilege of advocating for national and global clients for 15 years. Among our greatest achievements include the ability to support the ongoing mission of leading culture, art, development and humanitarian organizations through supported advocacy missions and programs. This view has been closely aligned as one of the core undertakings at Gotham PR and is reflected in the work handled by the agency with key partnerships outlined here.

We see it as our duty, in tandem with working with the press and public, to give PR a good name, globally. It is also very important to note that often, people heed advice from people who they admire and trust making it very important for PR leaders to have a voice that others respect and hear with little to no conviction.

Whether advocating on the business side or in pursuit of greater awareness about world-concerning issues [often a combination of the two], the role of advocacy in PR will only continue to assume greater significance this year, and beyond.

This news article was written by Courtney Lukitsch, Founder and Principal at Gotham PR in New York and London. It continues a thought leading series based on Agency and Client-side workplace issues, and is the basis of a forthcoming coaching and mentoring book to be published in 2017 alongside the 15th anniversary of the agency.

  • Katie Thomson

    This is an awesome post! I totally agree that PR professionals are more than just communicators, but advocates. I like when you say that we are professionals who “unite client advocacy and public interest,” because it emphasizes that our job is to unite people rather than divide. It is important that we have integrity in order to enhance ourselves, our clients and the profession.

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