Forget beauty, PR is about brains; period!

Forget beauty, PR is about brains; period!

Technological breakthroughs in the communication realm have bamboozled many people. The communication practitioner too has found it modish to employ gizmos in the trade of winning hearts and minds. That’s fine. Yet, we human beings are inherently social, therefore, those lifeless platforms do not truly resonate well with our primal urge of interpersonal rendezvous.

It is therefore prudent that communication experts need to be alive to this reality and make efforts of resisting the tide of heavy technological usage at the expense of interpersonal. Indeed, the good old aspect of interpersonal communication must remain an integral part of corporate communication.

Though technology is seeking to mechanize man, interpersonal communication allows the very spirit of the human soul to ooze and be experienced during an interaction. There is no technology that can replace the charm of a smile, the magic of a handshake, and the power of natural vocals of a human being in tittle-tattle over café latte. If well handled, interpersonal communication creates a lasting impression about the organization.


Yet, there has been a wide misconception to equate beauty with Public Relations. Misguided thoughts have been, if it's on heels, has lipstick, wears make-up, smiles, catwalks, can tie a balloon and carry flowers, then it's a good PR deal. Wrong. It doesn’t work that way my good people. Well, psychology says beauty has power. In their book, Messengers, Stephen Martin and Joseph Marks, consider “attractiveness” as a means of being persuasive. But then, there is a caveat. They argue, you cannot use this bait for far too long. People get fatigued by this objectification strategy. Plus PR needs brains. Beauty is nice, but the tyranny of beauty bungled what would have been a sure PR bet. Keep the looks, yes, but beauty is not PR.


Intellectual enterprise, therefore, dictates that your PR chap has mastery of the dynamics of communicative power and of the brand they represent. That is why your experts need to create a stakeholder map before even attempting to utter a word about the brand. This map will enable your team to understand the needs, concerns, preferences, influences, interests of different actors who may influence, or be influenced by the organization. Smart experts are always like a barometer continuously measuring shifting stakeholders and mapping them appropriately. This will guide you toward meaningful and productive engagement with your stakeholders. The map will allow you to appreciate which communicative platforms to engage with which stakeholder.

But the game-changer is having the right technocrat to steer the communication agenda. This way, you will have success with your stakeholders including the media, government, financiers, communities, policy-makers, and employees. That’s why I repeat: the biggest folly of organizations is to mistake PR and Communication for beauty and smiles. You are dead wrong if you belong to this archaic school of thought. Folks, communication requires a brain; leave beauty for the fashion contests and sundry stuff.


In the corporate world, there has always been a tussle. More often than not, communication plays the second fiddle in many organizations. This is a gross error. Just like in Virgin Group, comms is central to operations and management. Place it in its rightful place – the table where decisions are made.

The communication function is deeply integrated with the executive’s office that it’s fool-hardy to separate. Thus, let smart comms chaps report to the chief executive. Then, because you have hired an intellectual, let the head sit in high-level decision-making meetings with unlimited access to the decision-makers at the management and board level. This model allows the communication chap to be integrated into the corporate fibre and eventually give the organization the character that is fitting.

Rather than use communication technocrats as fire-fighters, allow them to play a proactive role in shaping the direction the company takes. A smart comms chap, has intuition, has insight, has perspective. This is a person who reads and understands dynamics. A great PR chap is an asset. With rich insights, you need this chap almost like you need oxygen.

Sadly, most organizations in Kenya disregard communication- until well of course there is a crisis, and the comms chap is sought to firefight. However, the obligation is on the part of the expert to educate the management of the unique nature of communication and how its value is calculated towards the bottom line.

Communication is the oil that lubricates the organization, the creator that breaths life to organization, the advocate that defends; it is what all smart organizations need to succeed. And so, as a critical component of corporate architecture, communication is too significant to be left to actors lacking in the requisite intellectual rigor.

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