Many people view the role of a public relations professional within an organization as one that involves “making the company look good” among other image enhancing functions. Whether they are called PR professionals, PR people, media relations folks, they are the ones typically called on to inform the public of updates or improvements, they are called to help change the perception of the public, help with rebranding efforts and in the event of negative press or other crises, public relations professionals are often called on to “fix things,” to wield that magic wand of words and press releases to make the bad stuff all go away in an effort to preserve or salvage a positive identity. Many would be surprised to learn that the role of a public relations professional is far more encompassing especially as it relates to a corporate identity.
According to the book Revealing the Corporation, there are three main criteria that help to define identity the first is a criterion of central character, this involves that element that can be used to differentiate one organization from another. The second, the criterion of claimed distinctiveness and thirdly the criterion of claimed temporal continuity. On a more elementary level a corporation’s identity has to do with the overall answer to the question “who are we?” Depending on the organization the focus of the definition of their corporate identity may be a strategic one. A strategic identity focuses more on the philosophical elements of a company’s identity and seeks to answer the question – “what do we stand for?” For some organizations, identity maybe more accurately defined by looking at the culture, for others the focus may be more on the communications policies, others have more of a fashionability focus and others yet focus on serving the organization’s stake holders both internal and external.
“Real corporate identity…is about behavior as much as appearance, and certainly about reality, as much as symbolism. Wherever behavior and appearance are linked, real corporate identity emerges.” There are said to be five identities of a company 1. The actual identity that encompasses the actual defining characteristics of the corporation, 2. Communicated identity – this involves the part of a company’s identity that is revealed using controllable corporate communication, 3. Conceived identity is the third type of identity and refers to the perceived corporate image held by relevant stakeholders, 4. Ideal identity – this is the best positioning of the organization in a given timeframe and finally is 5. The desired identity which is the corporate leaders’ vision for the organization. Having these different identities without proper alignment can create discord among these different areas and can weaken a company.
At Emory University, I work as the Associate Director for Annual Giving with the office of the Emory Annual Fund. Our main constituents are students, parents, faculty, staff,...