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Building a Case for Public Relations

Ask a public relations professional, “What do you do for a living?” and you may get as many different answers as there are practice specialties and organizational settings. Ironically, defining the discipline can be nearly as tough as combating the persistent stereotypes that denigrate its value and reputation.

To foster more accurate and better-informed perceptions surrounding the value and roles of public relations, PRSA today rolled out “The Business Case for Public Relations™.” This advocacy campaign, which was created with input from senior industry leaders, is intended to drive industry recognition and growth by helping professionals in the field educate key stakeholders about public relations’ functions and outcomes, demonstrate its strategic value and enhance its reputation.

With the launch, PRSA is making an extensive menu of resources available through the newly redesigned PRSA Web site, for use by public relations professionals.  Among them are:

  • Suggested message points to help you change entrenched attitudes and perceptions of public relations.
  • Articles on communicating with clients or senior management about the value and benefits of public relations.
  • A database of measurement resources, categorized by industry and practice area, which offers practical guidance for demonstrating the value of communications programs.
  • Professional development opportunities aligned with topics and resources correlated to The Business Case.
  • Silver Anvil Award case histories organized by industry and business outcome, so that you can find profiles of best-in-class public relations programs that have achieved measurable results similar to those that your clients or organizations may be pursuing.

Now is a perfect time to introduce and carry out such a campaign. The advent of new and social media, a collapse of institutional reputation and trust, and unprecedented challenges for the C-suite align neatly with our profession’s unique value proposition. Potentially, that gives us a major competitive advantage — that is, if we grasp the opportunity.

For while The Business Case for Public Relations was conceived, designed and delivered to advance our profession, it will take a profession to make it soar. We hope these tools and resources motivate and empower you to serve as a catalyst for reshaping internal and external perceptions of our profession and that you use them to demonstrate public relations’ value to your fellow practitioners, clients, management and other key constituencies.

You may also use this information to:

  • Dispel the measurability myth.
  • Advocate for ethical conduct.
  • Discourage the use of pejoratives.
  • Organize editorial board meetings with your local media.
  • Pitch new business or campaign for larger budgets.
  • Educate your clients or key influencers within your organization about the critical business outcomes that public relations is capable of driving.
  • Prepare blog posts, op-ed pieces and white papers.
  • Organize lunch-and-learn sessions.
  • Reach out to local government representatives.
  • Garner recognition for outstanding programs.

Please log on today to learn more about “The Business Case for Public Relations.” Your comments, thoughts or suggestions are welcome at businesscase@prsa.org.

Making the case for public relations is more urgent, and potentially more fruitful, than ever. With The Business Case, PRSA has jumped in to give the profession the tools it needs. Now, it’s up to you to join the effort, share in the process and enjoy its outcomes. It’s an opportunity we can’t afford to miss.

Michael G. Cherenson, APR, is PRSA’s 2009 Chair and CEO.

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