HR Isn’t Dead. It’s Called PR

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 Public Relations Love

What Happens when Human Resources and Public Relations Job Descriptions Blend?

As an HR practitioner and someone who has worked in the field for more than 10 years, I have a solid foundation and understanding of how human resource works within a corporation and also as a consultant.  In one of my most popular posts, HR is the New PR, I discussed what is PR and how cross-functional teams across human resources, Marketing, and PR should be an important

Over the last two years, there has been much debate on the death of HR.  While the fundamentals of human resources that we come to think of like hiring and firing remain the same, HR is evolving not because it wants to but became it has to…

Human resources  is a valuable member of Public Relations team with a legal twist.

Can PR, Communications, Human Resources, and Marketing be One Career

Over the last  year working as a full-time consultant who is also responsible for marketing and promoting her own business while also consulting clients on marketing, blogging, and public relations principles, I realize there is a very thin line that separates departments like human resources and public relations.

All four departments: Human Resources , Public Relations, Communications,  and Marketing work hard (often separately) to craft campaigns, devise strategies, and develop plans to educate, engage, and influence an audience of consumers. While the consumer or end-user may vary, all four work to craft, influence, and execute positive messages internally and externally about a company or corporation.

What is Human Resources Exactly?

Internally, human resources crafts memos, emails, and designs newsletter while preparing for the newest policy change and developing the best overall communication strategy to educate their end user on things like changes to a benefit plan, changes to the self-review and 360 feedback process, and the online corporate diversity program.  Externally, we write advertisements and job descriptions for job boards, write corporate blogs and work with our university, diversity, and other affirmative action partners to fill open positions.

All while HR is conducting investigations and mitigating and developing damage control strategies for the email miscommunication on holiday pay while working with corporate teams to forecast department openings and identifying our future internal talent.

Ever heard of a thing called Employer Branding? What about Marketing HR?  These are but two of thousands of blogs and articles devoted to the shift, a change in thought…

HR and PR: Not so Different Any More

Chances are your marketing teams and PR departments manage and monitor your social media, monitoring key words, phrases, and managing comments and conversations.  Human Resource teams often do the same internally monitoring the workplace grapevine, internal email and instant message platforms while also promoting job openings, sourcing, and marketing to prospective employees and future or current consumers.

Your human resource and recruiting teams are the champion of your employer brand. Yes, I said “brand.”

The overlap is everywhere and most HR professionals continue to go about their daily responsibilities acutely unaware.   HR is more than just hiring and firing, it’s about maintaining a positive public and corporate image, predicting and planning for the consequences, and implementing planned action programs which serve both the organization and the public.

Public Relations Careers and Media Communications

While I don’t believe HR is meant to replace PR, I believe that fundamentally we are the same and by working together instead of apart we can help to truly transformation an organization and communicate a clear and consistent message to all consumers throughout all departments.  And don’t be surprised if you see the crossover already beginning.  More and more savvy HR professionals are re-considering their corporate career paths into the marketing, public relations, and branding arenas.

So you want to work in Marketing, PR, or Communications?  Try HR.  And maybe just maybe there’s a seat at the table for HR after all.

It’s called the Vice President of Communications!

 

Follow up (10/20/10)–The response to this post has been overwhelming.  The post has been highlighted in the HR CommunicatorRagan Communications, and PR Daily

Photo Credit Orgullobrand.


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Comments

  1. Great post, Jessica.

    I have been saying it for years that HR is integrating more and more with PR/Communications/Marketing.

    Now that HR is integrating social media in its every day practice, it makes even more sense to cross-integrate these departments. Just as you stated, PR, Comm, or Marketing will typically analyzing top terms on coming across in the social media stream (Twitter, FB, etc.). Why not use this information to further target HR’s priorities such as with recruiting?

    Thanks for the enlightening post!

    Chris

    Reply
    • Thanks Chris,

      I want to bring attention to the HR pros who are walking around unaware that they are brand managers for their companies while these departments are re-creating often the same work. I have worked with several clients whose marketing teams were already monitoring key words on twitter and not talking to HR directly. Or HR was responsible for the social media policy but not speaking with the PR and Marketing teams.

      Thanks!

      Jessica

      Reply
  2. Jess, I love how you clearly lay out the similarities. No only do many HR pros shy away from collaborating with Marketing or their PR team, the reverse is true. It seems as if there is a 40′ high brick wall between us.

    My favorite part of your post is where you said, “HR is more than just hiring and firing, it’s about maintaining a positive public and corporate image, predicting and planning for the consequences, and implementing planned action programs which serve both the organization and the public.” That’s it. That is the part that we need to get through to everyone.

    The most successful organizations are not only those who are adopting social media strategies, they are also the orgs. that are creating opportunities for HR/ Marketing/ Communications to work together. I’d also add in that innovation will play a key role in how the role of the HR professional changes. The CHRO of the future will be a master of ALL those areas. Great post!!

    Reply
  3. Oh No! Groan… HR is HR we can call ourselves many things, Business Partner etc etc. Lets make sure who we are and get on and make money for the companies we work for.
    Why do we continue to work on our brand when we should really be working on how effective we are?

    Reply
  4. Fantastic blog post and touching a subject I’m passionate about. I come from a marketing background and see very clearly how HR, PR and Marketing need to work together.

    If the marketing/brand promise we give to customers doesn’t match the marketing/brand promise delivered by employees, there’s a huge disconnect. As Chris said, social media has just opened the flood gates to transparency of message. However, social media isn’t just a tool for marketing – we use many social media tools internally -it’s a fantastic way to encourage collaboration and leadership communication.

    Reply
  5. Right on. The vertebrae of every business: marketing and PR, branding and business development, sales-sales-sales, and of course people (especially those who recruit, hire, develop and retain them).

    Reply
  6. HR talk is legalese for non-lawyers.

    If I wanted to confuse and befuddle people I would hire the HR dept to write my propaganda.

    But I would never hire HR to write a call to action.

    @TrishMcFarlane You know I love you with those pictures of your 80s hair. Why don’t you do it again just to be different.

    But if I edited this article it would be half as long and you would take out all of the typical HR repetitions.

    ———-

    “All four departments, PR, Communications, Human Resources, and Marketing work hard (often separately) to craft campaigns, devise strategies, and develop plans to educate, engage, and influence an audience of consumers. ”

    “Internally, HR crafts memos, emails, and designs newsletter while preparing for the newest policy change and developing the best overall communication strategy to educate their end user on things like changes to a benefit plan, changes to the self-review and 360 feedback process, and the online corporate diversity program.”

    “Externally, we write advertisements and job descriptions for job boards, write corporate blogs and work with our university, diversity, and other affirmative action partners to fill open positions. “

    Reply
  7. “The overlap is everywhere and most HR professionals continue to go about their daily responsibilities acutely unaware.”

    Truer words have never been spoken.

    Reply
    • Thanks Maureen. I am honored. You are one of the first blogs and forum threads I read when I was just a tiny baby blogger on ERE.

      Thanks!

      Jessica

      Reply
  8. I agree with the base premise presented here 100%. My question is, how is PR generally perceived and how are those who put out PR collateral perceived by J.Q. Public? Like marketing, there can be an unsavoury taint around it. So, yes, you can acknowledge this trend, but then you have to ask yourself whether HR principles come along for the ride.

    David Slonosky |
    Reply
    • Steve,

      I think you are right. HR needs to start putting their big boy or big girl pants on and get out there. They are already doing a lot of things–some wrong and some right and some they don’t even know they knew. I’d like to think in general that HR does a good job of handling crisis situations. I, personally have stopped my share of employee riots, picketing, and even robberies (not as a robber but as a member of management who was on the premises). Of course, I am not like every HR person but the fact is that we handle a lot of shit that most outside folks don’t know about, and I like to think that overall with do a better than average job. That’s more to say than Tylenol or Dominos did.

      Thanks for the comment. I can always count on you for good conversation.

      Jessica

      Reply
  9. Ideally, the PR staff communicates the organization’s key external messages and current communications goals to other departments, particularly those that deal directly with the public, so that everyone is singing in the same key. IMO, it should be the PR and marketing departments driving this conversation but also gathering input from HR and other key communicators.

    Heffalump |
    Reply
  10. Well…I must say there’s a lot of discussion among my friends on FB about how unprofessional HR has grown as a result of the recession and a lot of speculation as to why…layoffs w/in the dept? Taking the employee pool for granted? But the online applications process that doesn’t allow people to respond to particular postings, IQ or personality tests that go with applications that you don’t even know will be sent to hiring managers, or super-long lags in response times to resumes, or (this was the subject of an irate FB post from a friend recently, which got 30-odd comments), after weeks of no response, suddenly getting a call or email with the *assumption* that you are available and interested… or, here’s one… a friend was on this THIRD interview, *out of town*, when they called him at his hotel to say that someone else had accepted the position! Why did they even bring him in for a third interview if they’d offered it to someone else? Did they even realize? What are HR departments *doing*? Maybe now we know.

    Spending too much time on brand.

    And possibly not realizing how much this type of behavior is hurting brand.

    Reply
    • @Claudia,

      Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately one or two bad HR folks can spoil the bunch. I’m sorry your friend or friends had a bad experience with HR. Corporate HR departments are overworked and underpaid. In fact over the last two years, HR have been downsized, reorged, right-sized and more work piled on top of them. Honestly, we aren’t always responsible for making the determination about who is interviewed and when. We’re the middle man. Someone else is often calling the shots in the interview and hiring process. We’re like the nice realtor that has to negotiate and talk to the seller’s agent as well as the seller.

      I’m with you. Thanks for the comment!

      Jessica

      Reply
    • Jonathan,

      Agree with you and like how you have taken things a step further with your post. Communications, PR, HR, Marketing, OD is everywhere. We should be collaborating instead of siloing ourselves and maybe that’s what this post is really about.

      Good stuff!

      Jessica

      Reply
  11. Jessica,

    Good post. Way back in the seventies I worked as communications manager very closely with the present HR dept to develop games and cards etc that all were used to introduce new polices throughout the company at the time (30.000 plus employees). For me HR is all about communications and one of the most forgotten tools in the HR work. When was a HR manager trained in communications?
    Christer

    Reply
    • Thanks Christer. The fact is HR hasn’t been trained formally in these areas unless they seek out the training themselves or have a mentor or good relationship with their own communications department like you do. Most large companies are so segmented that there is no involvement outside of a committee meeting which is very sad. I believe it’s time we changed that.

      Jessica

      Reply
  12. Love this post, as it’s consistent with what I’ve been saying for years. I’ve followed the described path in reverse, as a communications pro who sought to move into the HR arena because I saw the overlap in the functions and knew HR could be more effective with a more polished, strategic communication strategy. I’m fortunate to work for a company that embraced this vision with me, and to work alongside my counterparts in marketing and PR where both sides of this brand and culture coin are equally valued. Thanks for the validation!

    Karen Vernon |
    Reply
  13. I am MBA with HR as my major specialization, and marketing as my minor specialization.
    I am a fresher. I have recently got a job of Public Relations officer. I want to make a career in HR field.
    Can anyone advice me, shall i go for the PR job…?

    Pooja,
    Ahmedabad,
    India.

    Pooja |
    Reply
  14. Very impressive explantion of the evolving nature of HR functions within the corporate world.Very often small business like mine we tend to intergrate HR,Marketing and Public Relations our clientele and also to create a an attractive branding to the benefit of the public and the organisation itself.

    Reply

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