PR, who do you think you are?


Who else wants a try at defining PR? Anyone want to come up here?

I’m sure by now you may have noticed that the PRSA is working to develop a new definition of PR. Three draft choices are up in an article posted on and the chosen definition is to be announced on February 27 after public voting.

I don’t know about you but I just wonder if this exercise is in vain. Isn’t there any definition out there right now that we can just keep using? Or has the corporate social landscape changed so much over the past twenty  or so years that Cutlip and Center’s definition doesn’t work for us anymore? And what does the surge and growing importance of social media mean if we want to redefine what public relations means?

In any case, I don’t really think the three definitions to vote on (please look them up and see what you think) are really all that different from the original. Only one of the definitions even mentions communications!

If I was to explain PR and what we do to a friend or relative, I think I would just tell them: “We communicate. So we write, we read, we listen. We get in touch with people who matter to us. There are a lot of way to do this. It’s important because our organization is a big part of our community and we have to know what’s happening and what’s important and our community needs to know what we’re up to.” Put another way: Public Relations is when we manage relationships through effective communication.

I don’t think I’m too far off base. And we’re not cluttering the definition up with words like strategy and organization and stakeholders and blah blah blah (note that synergy, dynamic and robust are not words I chose either).

I’d like to know what you think.



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4 responses to “PR, who do you think you are?

  1. Great article! I noticed in the course materials and textbook, a shift to rename what the PR function is. I often have trouble explaining to friends and family, too! Glad to see I am not alone LOL

    I’m not really a fan of any of the “new” definitions mentioned, and I agree that they don’t seem too different!

  2. Nikki

    Okay, cool.l It’s not just me! I still wonder what the point of it was, really. PR for PR’s sake?

  3. I wonder why we are always trying to explain what we do. A case of insecurity?

    • Or years of trying to escape misconceptions about our roles; that we’re not trying to hide the truth or bend it to our wills for the sake of corporate reputation.

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