In the latest issue of PRSA’s The Strategist there is an article “Driving Public Relations” that discusses Chrysler’s corporate decision to put PR under their HR department.
Nancy Rae, Chrysler’s human resource and corporate communications executive is now handling PR. According to the article, this move is “part of the cultural transformation—and the search for “synergies and efficiencies”—that Chrysler began in 2007. This new role also gives her additional oversight of employee relations.
I, obviously, can’t site the entire article for you, but the gist is that there were PR professionals like Jason Vines (Chrysler’s former PR VP of corporate communications), John Guiniven, APR, Fellow PRSA (Chrysler’s former director of corporate PR), and Janine Turner (Mandrake Executive Search Consultants) chiming in how this move is wrong for many reasons.
Some of the debate includes: where PR should fit within an organization (and they don’t think it’s under HR); the argument that PR should report to the CEO (and have a seat at the executive table) to ensure that they are part of decision-making and corporate strategy; and the fact that HR and PR are completely different disciplines.
Here are my quick, off-the-cuff thoughts:
- HR has a tendency to keep corporate information close to the vest, you can’t do that with reporters or your publics—especially during a crisis;
- PR is not an “anyone can do this” job. It is a degreed discipline;
- HR typically isn’t involved with product development, marketing and customers; and
- HR focuses internally, not externally—employees relations does not equate to public/external relations.
As you probably can guess, I believe that PR needs to be a function of Marketing. PR folks can debate me (note: I also am a PR practitioner) on this, but PR is promotion. You ARE promoting the company and it’s strategy in one way or another. Whether it’s product promotion, thought leadership, or community relations, the end game is the same—two-way communications and acceptance.
Also, I found it interesting that the article notes that the PR team at Chrysler works 24/7—whether there’s a crisis or not. 24/7? Is that necessary? Perhaps it’s an exaggeration to squelch the perception that being a private company will equate to lack of communication.
I apologize for not having a link to the article for you to read and react to, but there isn’t one available.
Smart PR and marketing folks, in general, what do you think? Should PR fall under HR? What are the ramifications of doing so? And, feel free to provide opinions on PR falling under marketing too.