All the hoopla about Madmen, AMC's new show that covers the men of advertising circa the late 50's, reminded me that there is no recognized culture of PR akin to the culture of advertising.
Dating back to the days of the Mary Tyler Moore show - her husband on show, Rob Petrie, was an ad man - the public has held a fascination with the people who create advertising, despite the ambivalent feelings people generally have about ads.
Ad men were romanticized back then. Although the image has been updated, and is certainly less male dominated, it is still seen to be a glamorous field.
And the image people have of the PR field is.... ???
Then, I reminded myself that PR as a profession is on the upswing (please see my March post on the Fusion Forum: PR Props).
I was also pleased to see good PR for PR in the Business Week article: The Corporate Image: What Price Reputation?. It posited the startling thesis that a company's reputation can affect its stock price. Not a revelation in and of itself, but upon reading further it really did get interesting. It reported on the growing trend of turning reputation management into a science, and cited research isolating and identifying the specific premium (or drag) that a company's reputation can add to (or subtract from) its stock price.
The article cited work that research firms like Delahaye (you will recall I interviewed author and Delahaye - now Cision - Sr. VP Mark Weiner on Fusion Forum) are doing to research image and steer clients to the most effective messages.
Here's an interesting quote from the article:
"There are plenty of data measuring the visibility and credibility of a company," says Low. "But there have been no data showing how communications adds value to a company." Says corporate communications professor Paul A. Argenti of Dartmouth's Tuck School of Business, also a CCW partner: "If we can get this right, we have found the holy grail of communications."
The reporter concludes:
While these experiments are intriguing, the real test of faith in the new science of spin will come when somebody risks serious money on it. Suppose a hedge fund really does unravel the secret that can boost a company's value simply by turning around its reputation—and uses that information to buy and reshape that company's image?
Heady stuff indeed! OK, so there' not cult of PR. But I am resting easier knowing there may be a hedge fund pot at the end of the rainbow.