Redefining PR

If you’re in PR, you likely know that the Canadian Public Relations Society is involved in the Public Relations Society of America’s exercise to update the definition of PR. An open process is underway, and we are invited to join our industry colleagues to add our voice.

The process is a bit overdue, to say the least.

Mobile, digital and social culture has changed how we communicate, and as PR professionals, we’ve needed to adapt or risk becoming obsolete.

Why we communicate has also changed. In the past, the needs were more or less to get a message out or react to a crisis. Traditional reporters were the ones getting the story out.

That’s all changed in today’s social age. Anyone can share their experience with or opinion of a company or its actions—good or bad. Potentially millions of people could be listening and could weigh in. A company’s brand and reputation are at stake all the time.

Creating a standard definition that recognizes the evolution of PR and supports its professional credibility is paramount. And, I welcome the opportunity to add my voice.

Based on the criteria PRSA has set out, here is my input:

  • PR does what: protects brands by building sustainable relationships through discussion, engagement and interaction. In essence, we create advocates and ambassadors. Let them help protect your brand. They can be equally, if not more, effective than your media spokesperson.
  • With/for whom: any person or organization who touches your brand. While different tactics apply depending on the target audience, PR professionals need to be cognisant of who and what will be impacted, and ensure appropriate strategies and tactics are considered.
  • To do what: influence opinion, action and behaviour. This is a two-way street now. Recognize your audiences influence you as much as you influence them.
  • For what purpose: to build effective and mutually beneficial value. For your company, value could be building a loyal customer base. For customers, it could be a company that not only has a great product, but also engages with customers, invites feedback and responds.

If you have any thoughts on this, let me know what you think.