Philip Sheldrake

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Tag: Public Relations Society of America

Public Relations Defined – the anatomy of a candidate definition, ver 0.2

PRSA PR Defined

[Written for the CIPR Friday Roundup]

Following the momentum the PRSA's #prdefined initiative is achieving, and the CIPR's statement of support, I thought I'd take a deeper dive into current definitions, and throw one in the mix myself.

I reproduced the section of my book that addresses the definitions of marketing and PR in my last post, and since then I've been able to have some insightful conversations, on- and off-line, with Jay O'Connor, Jon White, David Phillips and Terry Flynn.

Is it worth it?

There has been some valid criticism of the PRSA initiative pivoting around the question: shouldn't we invest time and energy in improving practice to live up to current definitions than review those definitions we already have? The counter to this argument is apparent for those tracking the thousands of comments on line; it appears that more than a few practitioners indirectly criticised by those holding this point of view are actually questioning their own appreciation of public relations, if not actively revising it.

CIPR definition

PR is the discipline that looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.

My favourite definition, no word of a lie! I obviously love the reference to influence, but also the apparently unique and skilful avoidance (intended or otherwise) of communication, thereby emphasising the objective not the means. But when 'reality is perception', as is increasingly the case with the radical transparency lent by social media, reputation is built by everything an organisation does (or indeed does not do), not just what the PR team does; every one must be involved in "looking after" reputation. Read more

Public Relations Defined – The PRSA invites you to help set a new definition of PR

Here's how the corresponding blog post by the PRSA describes its "Public Relations Defined" initiative:

As part of its mission to advance the public relations profession and professional, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has introduced a new initiative to modernize the definition of public relations and increase its value. As the digital age has caused significant shifts in how organizations communicate internally and externally, a question frequently asked by the public, media and practitioners is, "What is public relations?"

The PRSA explains the initiative in these simple terms:

Recent discussions, blog posts, tweets and mainstream articles have suggested that (1) public relations professionals (and, thus, the audiences we serve) continue to struggle with the question: "What is PR?"; (2) many industry professionals are unhappy with the current definitions; and (3) no one definition is considered "the" de facto industry definition.

What more justification do we need?

While my book The Business of Influence sets out to be a rethink of the 'influence disciplines', it starts by reviewing current definitions of marketing and PR. "Well, this book wants to map out a journey from A to B, and navigating to B is so much easier if we're all at A to begin with."

In hoping to contribute to the renewed debate, I've reproduced the book's definitions section here. Now all I need to do is work out if the PRSA will be open to a definition leaning on the Influence Scorecard and the role of Chief Influence Officer. What do you think? Read more