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My first thought was that at least David Rickey displayed a sense of humour in his comments, but then when I got to the third point in the post, I lost mine. 3. They won’t change the profession’s image. Really? Then why are we bothering? He then goes on to say: That’s true. But this initiative was never about changing the profession’s image. What will change public relations’ image, though, are some of the other outcomes PRSA is focused on achieving. Things such as encouraging ethical conduct on the part of public relations professionals. Creating a more diverse profession. Developing measurement and evaluation techniques that are widely understood, accepted, and implemented. Demonstrating the public good served by the profession. And helping current and future business leaders understand and appreciate the vital role of reputation management in their marketing mix.
REALLY? We're attempting to encourage ethical practice (a subject of great importance to me, as I know it is to others) by creating a new definition of what it is we do for a living? Seems to me that less effort should be spent on defining and more on strengthening the code of conduct under which we practice. And as for creating a more diverse professional body, and developing a widely understood and accepted standard of measurement and evaluation -- how exactly? By stringing together a bunch of vague and often overused buzz words that leave most people reading them going...huh? And as for getting anyone outside the industry to grasp any of the proposed definitions as a means to increase their appreciation of the vital role PR plays in reputation management and marketing; I think that's the very audience that will be standing there going...HUH?
And finally, I chafe at the words, "some of the other outcomes PRSA is focused on achieving." As I've said before, I don't know that PRSA truly does represent the complete and broad spectrum of public relations practitioners. And a comment such as that rings to me of an organization looking to create a definition that suits their view/purpose versus what is necessarily reality.
2 years ago on Why Can't We Define Public Relations?
You had me nodding my head in agreement to every word until you made the statement that PR is reactive while Marketing is proactive. I feel you minimize PR's range of ability and impact by classifying it as reactive, I think there is a lot of proactive consultation and service going on. But overall, I get what you're saying and agree with it. It's ironic that an industry built on effective communication is having difficulty communicating what it does.
If I may be so bold, I think perhaps the problem is that we're attempting to come up with a blanket, "one size fits all" definition for an industry that has an ever-increasing number of facets. I've always thought of PR as an umbrella term that defines a basic concept, but not a specific function. If you put 10 PR people in a room, chances are no two among them necessarily does the same thing or employs the same tactics. As you noted in your post, I think the mistake a lot of agencies make is trying to be all things to all people. For a major agency like Edelman, Burson, etc. they have enough divisions and people that they probably are/can be all things for a client. But there's an almost competitive desperation that often exists among PR professionals to appear capable and qualified rather than showcasing and focusing on a core expertise. I have over 20-years of PR experience, and in that time I've done A LOT. It's given me great exposure and range that I'm grateful for, but, I know what I do best. When I present myself to perspective clients I apply my core strengths to their objectives/goals, and if there is something I either can't do...or don't have the level of experience doing that the client requires, I collectively partner with other PR experts to create a "dream team."
The concern I have with the PRSA creating a new definition is that they tend to be governed by members who are attached to large agencies so their perspective really does not represent smaller agencies, boutique firms, and independent consultants.