Public relations needs a PR campaign
The alert gives me a good read on perceptions about public relations, the often-misunderstood profession in which I serve.
In between the links to articles quoting PR spokespersons relaying information about layoffs or — increasingly, thank God — hiring, you usually get several stories about a PR “move” or “stunt.”
They give the impression that public relations strategies and tactics are nothing but fluff designed to distract people from the truth.
Some even quote so-called experts putting down a leader or organization for employing public relations practices such as town hall meetings, appearances in the media or memorable slogans.
They must have forgotten their history lessons. Was the Boston Tea Party a PR stunt? Was Thomas Paine’s Common Sense a bunch of fluff? Was Don’t Tread on Me a meaningless slogan?
Public Relations gets a bad rap in some circles. I guess that’s our fault.
I’m glad organizations such as the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) have taken steps to address the misconception.
PRSA offers an Accreditation in Public Relations (APR), which consists of oral and written tests. I have had mine since 1998.
In our APR study, we memorized this definition: “Public relations is a management function which establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization the publics upon whom its future depends.” (Wording not exact,but close. It’s been awhile.)
As Grunig, Grunig and Dozier say in Excellent Public Relations and Effective Organizations: “…the value of public relations comes from the relationships that communicators develop and maintain with publics.”
Katie Delahaye Paine writes in Measuring Public Relationships: The Data-Driven Communicator’s Guide to Success: “Healthy relationships pay off in reduced legal fees, lower turnover, higher customer loyalty, and greater efficiencies. And bad relationships are costly in the extreme.”
Thanks for giving me a little time to share something that’s been in the back of my mind. I usually try to report best practices here, or at least something I’ve tried and turned out to be a worst practice. Or maybe a review of a book I’ve read.
If you have any thoughts about public relations’ image, please share in the Comments. I’d love to hear what you have to say.