Home > PRSA, Strategic public relations > PR’s public relations campaign starts with me

PR’s public relations campaign starts with me

We PR pros need to spread the word about what we do.

The recent post asking “Does public relations need a PR campaign?” has generated some thought-provoking discussion in a couple of LinkedIn Groups. Here are direct links:

PRWise (31 comments)

Network of PR professionals (22)

After contemplating the thoughtful comments, I’ve come to the conclusion that each of us in public relations bears the responsibility of educating others about our profession.

It took me back a decade or so to a time when I made it a priority to help the executive team at my employer better understand the role of professional PR people. I felt that they were under-utilizing my capability.

I used some of our training funds to buy each of the executives a copy of Effective Public Relations, Eighth Edition, by Cutlip, Center and Broom. I put Post-It notes on some of the pertinent parts of the text — the basis for the Public Relations Society of America’s accreditation exam.

Also, I sprinkled quotes from the text as well as other professional publications in reports about strategic communication programs I was leading. I printed out the quotes and posted them in my workspace. I shared these basics when consulting with my clients — some of whom wanted me to “do a flier” or “write an article” without considering target audience or message.

I made a point of doing all of my work in the context of a strategic plan — something that continues today. I set measurable objectives and reported results at regular intervals — also a constant.

Here are a few quotes I found helpful:

“Public relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between and organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends.” — Cutlip, Center and Broom

“…public relations conducts a planned and sustained program as part of an organization’s management.” — Cutlip, Center and Broom

“…marketing focuses on exchange relationships with customers … transactions that meet customer demands and achieve organizational economic objectives. In contrast, public relations covers a broad range of relationships and goals with many publics — employees, investors, neighbors, special-interest groups, governments, and many more. Effective public relations contributes to the marketing effort by maintaining a hospitable social and political environment.” — Cutlip, Center and Broom

“Elements of Public Relations include: Counseling, Research, Media Relations, Publicity, Employee/Member Relations, Community Relations, Public Affairs, Issues Management, Financial Relations/Investor, or Shareholder Relations, Government Affairs, Industry Relations, Development/Fund Raising, Special Events, Marketing Communications.” –PRSA

In digging up these quotes, I found a couple others:

From Abraham Lincoln, 1859: “Public sentiment is everything. With public sentiment, nothing can fail; without it, nothing can succeed.”

From Alfred Nobel, 1889:  “A good reputation is more important than a clean shirt. You can wash your shirt but not your reputation.”

Yes. I do think public relations needs a PR campaign. And I think I need to do my part by continuing to perform strategic PR and educate those who may not understand how it works and why it’s so important.

  1. March 13, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    Very good thoughts in here, similar to Paul Roberts thoughts that PR needs controversy. http://paulrobertspr.blogspot.com/2010/03/pr-still-needs-more-controversy.html In any event, PR needs to improve its value prop.

    Keep up the good work.


    • mikeboehmer57
      March 13, 2010 at 5:18 pm

      Thanks, Tony. I plan to continue plugging away, taking advantage of opportunities to help people better understand what we do.

  2. March 15, 2010 at 11:17 pm

    This discussion reminded me of a story from my last job.

    There was a time when the IT department was getting a bad rap. I shared on Twitter, “How can we bring sexy back to IT?”

    Among the different responses, the one that stuck with me was this one:
    “In order to bring sexy back to IT, it must have been there in the first place.”

    PR, though, because of its outward focus, would appear on the surface to be sexy.

    Or is this just a case of “the grass is always greener on the other side”?

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