Who ARE You Today? The Question Ties PR Field Up in Knots

Asking the PR profession to agree on a definition for what it should be Horsetoday has tied the field up in knots.

There has been much blog debate about PRSA's efforts to redefine public relations, and lots of dialog on Twitter (check out the hash tag #prdefined to track the conversations).  And it is not just insular industry chatter, e.g. the NY Times covered the effort a couple of the months ago (see Redefining Public Relations in an Age of Social Media).

I guess it is like the cobbler's kids that don't have shoes – us PR folks are supposed to be great communicators, yet can sometimes struggle when we are the client. The question can be a lightening rod, too, and asking it – as well as expecting an answer that everyone can agree upon – is not easy.

I had been sitting quietly on the sidelines until I got an email from Heidi Sullivan of the Cision blog. She asked me late in the day last Friday on my thoughts, for a post she was working on – I decided that I was tired of procrastinating about the topic and came up with something I thought was simple and to the point:

“I define public relations as the practice that helps companies, people and brands express themselves in the best possible way.  It is about helping them communicate – directly, and with and through intermediaries – to advance their objectives.”

You can see what others thought by visiting the Cision blog, and checking out the three leading contenders on the PRSA site (the industry group is now asking for comments before putting this to bed).

Perhaps it is misguided and overly ambitious to expect everyone to agree on a single definition for such a diverse  field.  You can't help but think that the result will be a camel, that is a horse built by a committee.

But I am glad that I finally gave it some thought and responded, and urge others who have not had their voices heard to chime in too.

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