CHICAGO — Bucking industry trends, Golin is reaffirming its commitment to being a PR firm — and a progressive one at that — via a repositioning that comes when most of its major rivals have dispensed with the nomenclature in favour of such terms as 'strategic communications' and 'integrated marketing'. 

Golin’s initiative aims to cut through the various buzzwords that feature in the PR industry, while also rallying pride among PR practitioners.

“I believe as an agency and as an industry there is a need to be more proud of the business that we’re in and to have conviction for that business and what it’s impact is on society and clients in general,” said co-CEO Gary Rudnick, adding practitioners are commonly not forthcoming about what business they’re in, substituting words like “marketing” for “public relations.”

“There historically has been a reticence to claim what we do because there is some feeling that it is not as valuable or important as other aspects of the marketing communications business,” he said.

In practical terms, Golin is hoping to define its offering more clearly around data and analytics, multi-channel consumer engagement and creative content, while promoting those abilities to its staff and wider industry.

In addition, the firm is bolstering its core competencies — media and influencer relations, customer experience tools and earned-first creative. The “progressive” part, Rudnick said, comes with reinforcing the value of effective public relations by using those tools to show clients the return on their investment, as well as hiring talent with the expertise to make that happen.

That also involves creating an environment that promotes employee buy-in, calling for a forward-thinking approach to areas such as diversity and inclusion, gender pay equity and terms of employment, added Rudnick.

“Being a progressive PR agency matters in tools and the work we do, but also from a cultural standpoint,” Rudnick said, noting that he hopes Golin’s move to embrace and further PR will permeate the rest of the industry. “We are not the only ones who are proud of the industry,” he said. “But we are not afraid to be the first to stand on the soapbox and articulate it.”