The McKinney Manifesto
By Gwen McKinney,
From PR with a Conscience to Strategic Communications with Vision
Nearly 27 years ago, owning a public relations firm was a lofty, if not ambitious endeavor. For me, public relations with a conscience was clever but true, niched to positioning social justice causes and leaders in the public square.
Back then, the Internet was in its infancy and social media was the style page. Online news, virtual engagement and blogs didn’t exist. Cloud computing could well have been the gibberish of a confused space cadet. To the backdrop of the 90’s, we embraced an idealism that working hard, fighting fair and speaking truth to power would carry the day. As a hired gun, I was proud to succeed on behalf of my clients because I believed in them and their cause.
Fast forward to a time when old school values and 20th Century tools are antiquated. Social equity voices are easily drowned out by fake news and alternative facts. The concentration of media power is more consolidated than ever and the fragmentation of news is muted by 24/7 cable coverage. Media relations specialists have been reduced to flacks.
Many of the institutions that were my partners have discovered that content, media and public presence are managed more cost-effectively internally, drawing upon the vast array of technologies and trinkets to communicate. Less a rejection of external support, it is an outgrowth of a new communications age that encourages users to create your own story. Any story –whether immersed in a strategic vision or not.
Understanding that the clutter and clamor is hard to penetrate, I have concluded that public relations has outlived its usefulness as a business model. Corrupted, coopted, vilified, “PR” is used interchangeably with another two-letter abbreviation: BS.
Unwilling to be a hired gun, I’m proclaiming an evolution that is steeped in strategic communications with a vision.
Yes, we still must be compensated for our talents and time, but the service will be based on transforming what isn’t first visible by the naked eye to tangible, concrete outcomes. No spin or pitches, our deliverables will flow from ideals wedded to shared investment beyond contracted services.
The conscience must always reign, but I also insist that being bold is as important as being paid.
This manifesto is an opening salvo to evolve an old model. It is also a call for collaborators, co-creators, partners to come forward. Strategic Communications With Vision is open for business!