The Future of Human Resources and Public Relations

10 years, 10 months ago


Rašeljka Maras Juričić and Aco Momcilovic discuss the intersection of Public Relations and Human Resources and consider ways in which the interplay between the two disciplines might be improved.

Will PR ever be part of HR? Should we all become part of the CEO’s office? So many questions, not so many answers!

With continued development of both disciplines, it has become clear that there is a certain intersection between Human Resources and Public Relations. From HR’s standpoint Public Relations is primarily involved in the recruitment part of HR responsibilities, by affecting Attraction and Sourcing. Internal image is also created through Public Relations and Corporate Communications, which are very often and hopefully part of HR. They are employed in order to provide education for internal people, and external ones as well.

Some say that we are entering a new era, where some of the old principles of both HR and PR are likely to disappear. Gone will be the days where formal approach, paired with traditional presentation techniques, will be expected and "good enough" to do the job.

The fact is that globalization is changing the market, its culture and customs, and the way people are establishing business relationships. In order to follow a path different to that of the dinosaurs, companies, agencies and internal departments need to adapt, evolve and overcome the obstacles littering the way to a goal common to all of us – success.

Greater openness

Organizations are to become more open and connected with their customers, clients and potential employees... talents. A good example is Google, which supposedly cannot make a fine product without participation and help of outsiders, who are also invited to share success. This is obviously, a good move for creating reputation and company brand which, as a result, attracts talent.

Social media, Web 2.0, Cloud computing, and other emerging trends will force MNCs to obtain a required expertise from the global talent cloud. And the ones that are best in this will be the winners. HR Departments in the best companies are already prepared for those changes. For example, L’Oreal recruits through Second Life, maintains a recruitment application on Facebook, and is educating its HR staff about advantages provided by LinkedIn and Twitter services.

A chiploser and stronger relations between HR & PR will help in efficiently dealing with the growing gap between approaches to dealing with things in business or in private lives. Working with that, as some would say "social singularity", is already helping some to reinforce their brand image, to get to the talent pool first, and then use it to further affect the engagement and motivation of their employees, especially Gen Y-ers.

In dealing with the primary business resource in contemporary economy – people – HR is undoubtedly a strategic function. Similarly, dealing with the public appearance and reputation of those same people is where PR steps in, and is as strategic as it gets. And yet, if you add the marketing component into the mix, you can come up with a fully-fledged and working "secret sauce" that provides the best value and efficiency for the company.

The catch

The catch in all this is that you have to get rid of the unnecessary overhead by establishing a more direct and efficient information sharing and task scheduling. Many people in the PR industry today still hold the belief that viable and measurable results can only be achieved if reporting directly to the company CEO. Though this "CEO-as-a-hub" approach may be viable in general business administration, it severely hampers the innovation, synergy and directness achieved by being integrated into a coherent task unit.

Today people and the public want to be addressed directly and personally. And it is easier for companies to do so if their HR and PR departments practice that approach as well.

Let us be honest. Both of those strategic functions will remain separate for some time. However, it will be interesting to see how they will integrate in the future – for integrate they will have to.

Better alignment

The first step will be to better align them, in order to be able to achieve goals that are nowadays set very precisely. Human resources are still largely considered as an internally-focused function, handling inter-company issues between employees, and in essence being everyone’s "parent" in the company that everyone can come and talk to.

Conversely, public relations are still seen as an externally-focused function, enhancing the company image and handling media requests. And it is precisely this strict classification and separation that is negatively affecting the integration process.

Should not an HR operative know about which employees with which dispositions are best aligned with company’s external communication efforts – by closely collaborating with his PR colleague? And should not a PR consultant try to achieve better results in media training by knowing how to best motivate certain people and choose the right ones for the job in the first place – by closely collaborating with his HR colleague? Should not PR and HR unite their strength and be equally strategically focused in companies, rather than operating as stand-alone entities? What say you?

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The Author

Rašeljka Maras Juričić

Rašeljka Maras Juričić, CEO and Partner, Meritor Media Croatia.

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Aco Momcilovic

Aco Momcilovic, Human Resources Specialist, L’Oreal Adria.

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