If you missed it, PRSA released a new, crowdsourced definition of public relation. For context, here is the previous definition:
“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”
Here is the new definition
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
The reason for the new defintion was to keep pace with the realities of today’s environment. I’m not sure I see much of a difference. There is the emphasis of “Strategic Communications”. I like those words and included them in our company’s name but I don’t think they belong in the definition. PR should exist inside the definition of strategic communications and not the other way around.
There seems to be more of a focus on a win/win, “mutually beneficial relationships”. Reminds me of the old saying, when some tells you its a win/win they mean they won and you lost. I wonder if we found a little “spin” inside the definition.
I also think the definition is oversimplified for what the best of the best PR people do. We don’t just talk our ways to a win/win situation.
I think Edward L. Bernays’s nails the definition of public relations, (from ‘Crystallizing Public Opinion’) ”An applied social science that influences behavior and policy, when communicated effectively, motivates an individual or group to a specific course of action by creating, changing or reinforcing opinions and attitudes. Its ultimate objective is persuasion that results in a certain action which, to succeed, must serve the public interest.”
I like that and have always deferred to it. The objective is clear and path laid out. What I like most is the inclusion of influence. I’ve always said at our root, PR people persuade and influence.
Harold Burson, Chairman of Burson-Marsteller said it best. “We are advocate, and we need to remember that. We are advocates of a particular point of view, our client’s or our employer’s point of view. Ane while we recognize that serving the public interest best serves our client’s interest, we are not journalists. That’s not our job.”
Define it however you like. At the end of the day, if our clients aren’t achieving their objectives, we, PR people, aren’t doing our jobs.
A blog post in progress. As always, please disregard any typos or errors.