This week's guest post was written A. Larry Ross Communications. Kristin Cole, President, was very gracious to allow me to share their blog that was originally posted on their website on October 29, 2020.
ALR Communications is a public relations firm located in Carrollton, Texas, whose clients clients include LeTourneau University, Biola University, I Am Second, Compassion International, YouVersion Bible App, Thomas Nelson Publishing, and movie premiers, ministries, and many others.
Their purpose is not to manufacture an image for clients, but rather to establish and project their existing identity to a broadened group of target audiences.
I'm sharing this blog for students who might feel called to public relations, defined as "the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person" (Dictionary.com).
Edward Bernays is widely regarded as the founder of Public Relations, having pioneered the field in the 1920s. However, long before Bernays codified modern-day concepts that continue to define the profession, the Bible described many PR principles that remain valuable today. Just as the disciple Timothy described God’s Word as being “profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness,” it is also proven to be beneficial for guiding one’s PR approach and providing an understanding of its importance.
Sometimes, PR gets a bad rep due to often poorly handled PR scandals. But in many ways, PR is a biblical concept that no ministry leaders or influencers should have shame in seeking.
Here are a few ways we see aspects of public relations throughout the Bible.
Managing a Reputation
"A good name is to be more desired than great wealth, favor is better than silver and gold" (Proverbs 22:1).
One of the most important aspects of PR is reputation management. Some may believe that merely doing a good job and maintaining a good work ethic is enough of an effort to avoid public scrutiny, and while it should be, that isn’t always the case. Many organizations and individuals with outstanding images have found themselves in situations of trying to prove their integrity. In this Digital Age, where information can spread to millions online in a matter of minutes, unfortunately, all it takes is one person with an ill motive for a good reputation to go bad overnight without effective reputation management.
In the Scriptures, we see caution for Christians to only do good but to carefully avoid having even an “appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22). It seems that even thousands of years ago, the writers of the Bible understood how critical it is to be above reproach both in deed and appearance.
"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15).
Just as it is not necessarily enough to have a good reputation without managing it, knowing why we do what we do may hold little value if we are not prepared to defend our actions should a crisis come. We have all seen debates or interviews on TV where those being questioned were not ready to defend their stance or succinctly answer a question and the public scrutiny that followed. Once again, the Bible provided wisdom for avoiding these situations long before PR became a lucrative career.
This is one of the many reasons why seeking help from PR professionals, even when not experiencing a crisis or executing a campaign, is wise. An effective PR team can provide wisdom in helping you to understand the key message points about your organization, ministry, product or brand that should be communicated to the public and how to do so effectively. Additionally, they can help identify potential weak or problematic points that could be called into question and the best tactics for defending each one with honesty and poise.
Scripture tells us that a wise man builds his house upon a rock, which can weather storms, while the foolish man seeks a quick fix, building his house on sand that disintegrates during a crisis (Matthew 7:24-27). In the same way, PR professionals can provide the wisdom needed to present a message or navigate a problem before the time of testing comes so that you are prepared like the man who built his house on the rock.
Being an Ambassador
"Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us…” (2 Corinthians 5:20).
As public relations professionals, our job is to serve as a middleman between our clients and the public. Similarly, as Christians, our job is to be the intermediary between Christ and those who do not know Him. Consider Moses, who was appointed by God to be his spokesperson to the Israelites, and Jesus, who is the ultimate spokesman between God and His people.
Whether we realize it or not, every individual acts as an ambassador for what they believe in or represent. It is not a question of if you are sending a message, but what that message is. PR professionals are equipped to act as a communications ambassador for those who may lack skill or expertise in being an effective ambassador on their own.
As professional communicators and Christians, we can recognize the benefits of public relations and its principles as they relate to being better ministry leaders and influencers. We continue to learn through the evolution of PR today but can look to the Bible for guidance as well.
Could a career in public relations be your higher calling?
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.