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Call for Speakers: Digital Impact 2011

The Digital Impact Conference expands in 2011 to offer conference attendees a wider selection of programs by combining resources, networks and digital communities. The Call for Presentations is now open, and we are seeking digital experts to present strategies, theories, ideas, research and results at the 2011 Digital Impact Conference.

This is my fourth year co-chairing the PRSA Digital Impact Conference (@prsadig) with Elizabeth Albrycht for the Public Relations Society of America.  This year, Kevin Sangsland joins us as a new co-chair, which is great because the conference has grown significantly over the years.

Jen McClure of the Society for New Communications Research will be involved in the speaker selection process as well, and us many of you know, she has an outstanding track record securing some of the most sought after emerging media and technology thought leaders at the New Comm Forum each year.

The four of us, which the support and guidance of Barb McDonald, Judy Voss, Colleen Seaver and Don Bill will be reviewing speaker proposals together and would appreciate receiving yours.

Here are our official submission guidelines:

The Digital Impact Conference expands in 2011 to offer conference attendees a wider selection of programs by combining resources, networks and digital communities.

Co-presented by PRSA, the PRSA Technology Professional Interest Section, New York University School of Continuing Professional Studies and The Society for New Communications Research, the Digital Impact Conference will engage attendees by offering up leading digital influencers who will demonstrate the latest trends and innovative practices, strategic thinking and research from the world of digital communication.

The conference, which will be held at the Sentry Center in midtown Manhattan, will be attended by public relations, communications and digital media professionals seeking guidance, inspiration and ingeniousness from leaders of the continued digital media revolution.

Are You A Digital Influencer?
The Call for Presentations is now open, and we are seeking digital experts to present strategies, theories, ideas, research and results at the 2011 Digital Impact Conference. We seek the following to share their knowledge and mastery:

  • Digital Experts in the public relations, marketing communications, research, educational or technology sectors.
  • Leaders in the Digital Sphere — CMO, CEO, CFO, social scientist, management consultant, journalist, blogger, technologist or editor.
  • Hi-Tech Experts with insight into successful public relations for Hi-Tech companies and their agencies.

Can you represent? Presentations should incorporate:

  • Mobile social media and marketing — how are companies embracing (and pushing beyond) the opportunities and challenges of mobile communications?
  • Branding — what is and isn’t working?
  • Fast forward — what emerging technologies should we be using?
  • Social media integration — is it being used to its maximum potential?
  • Measurement & ROI — how are people demonstrating value and success?
  • Digital media strategy — where are we with development, implementation and expansion?
  • Usability and design — are we using tools to create excellent content that benefit users?

The Conference will feature three tracks:

Track 1

Strategies and Innovations

Chosen proposals for this track will include innovative programs that incorporate new ideas, trends and/or suggest future approaches and technologies.

Track 2

T3: Theory, Tactics & Technology for High-Tech Public Relations

Chosen proposals for this track will provide practitioners with intelligence, education and tools for successful public relations for high-tech companies and their agencies. The track will have a mix of sessions that address the theory, tactics and technology.

Track 3

New Communications Research

No proposals are being accepted for this track    Session in this track will be chosen from the Society for New Communications Research presentations on best practices in social media and new communications.

Call for Presentation Application Instructions and Rules
E-mail the application and supporting materials to Colleen Seaver by Monday, Dec. 13. For questions or more information, contact Colleen at (212) 460-1408.

Completed applications should be submitted via e-mail for consideration no later than Dec. 13, 2010, 5 p.m. PST. Applicants will be notified of final selections by e-mail no later than Jan. 7, 2011. Please note the following:

  • Sessions should provide attendees with a big picture understanding of how technology is changing how people and organizations communicate.
  • We are searching for research and case study presentations that provide insights, perspective and analysis by explaining insights behind the numbers.
  • Presentations must be detailed, thoughtful and able to provide attendees with knowledge and tools they can implement in their practice.
  • Provide complete contact details for references. Not providing references may result in your speaker proposal being disqualified.
  • The Digital Impact Conference Program Committee reserves the right to request potential speakers to participate in general panel sessions in lieu of their proposed sessions.
  • PRSA does not pay expenses, such as hotel and airfare costs, or offer speaker stipends.
  • Refrain from any content that could be considered as a “sales pitch.”
  • Speakers selected for the Digital Impact Conference must submit their PowerPoint presentations three weeks in advance of the Conference for review by the Digital Impact Conference Program Committee to ensure that the content is consistent with the conference and its intended track themes, and that there is no unintentional duplication of content.

Sponsorship Opportunities
We have several targeted sponsorship opportunities available. Prospective sponsors should contact Ann Caggiano at ann.caggiano@prsa.org or via phone at (212) 460-0351.

By Eric Schwartzman, founder and chairman of public relations services provider iPressroom, managing director of Los Angeles public relations firm Schwartzman & Associates, and executive producer of the PRSA award-winning public relations Podcast “On the Record…Online,” has nearly 20 years of experience as a marketer and a public relations practitioner and specializes in helping clients integrate all aspects of Web-based communications into mainstream public relations, corporate communications and marketing campaigns.

Click here to learn more information about the PRSA Digital Impact Conference.

176 Comments

  • Definition #1 really encompasses the essentials of PR: ethical research and communications to build mutually beneficial relationships. 

  • Definition #1 really encompasses the essentials of PR: ethical research and communications to build mutually beneficial relationships. 

  • #3 is simple, clear and jargon-free. That’s why it gets my vote. If you have to define words in your definition, it won’t provide clarity to the masses. The PR profession is the only one that focuses on key publics or stakeholders. We are talking about people/individuals. I disagree that engagement is just about social media. Engagement can be customer service or sales or media interviews or employee relations and can use multiple vehicles for that engagement. It really describes a two-way relationship and that is the biggest change since the last definition. 

  • #3 is simple, clear and jargon-free. That’s why it gets my vote. If you have to define words in your definition, it won’t provide clarity to the masses. The PR profession is the only one that focuses on key publics or stakeholders. We are talking about people/individuals. I disagree that engagement is just about social media. Engagement can be customer service or sales or media interviews or employee relations and can use multiple vehicles for that engagement. It really describes a two-way relationship and that is the biggest change since the last definition. 

  • If I have to choose just one it would be description 1. However, I think we do it all. Rex Harlow (1944) best summed up a public relations practitioner’s duties in his article “Public Relations at the Crossroads” where he posits:
    Most competent public relations men would recognize that public relations includes all that is thought, said and done to maintain effective relations between an institution and its publics.  Public relations…has to do with both internal and external relations of an enterprise. It includes personal relations, personnel relations, industrial relations, stockholder relations, board of directors relations, customer relations, government relations and supplier-creditor relations, community relations and trade relations, opinion surveys, advertising, publicity, semantics, etc. In addition, public relations is generally taken to include such working tools as the press, radio, motion pictures, printing, public speaking and professional writing. (p. 544).

  • If I have to choose just one it would be description 1. However, I think we do it all. Rex Harlow (1944) best summed up a public relations practitioner’s duties in his article “Public Relations at the Crossroads” where he posits:
    Most competent public relations men would recognize that public relations includes all that is thought, said and done to maintain effective relations between an institution and its publics.  Public relations…has to do with both internal and external relations of an enterprise. It includes personal relations, personnel relations, industrial relations, stockholder relations, board of directors relations, customer relations, government relations and supplier-creditor relations, community relations and trade relations, opinion surveys, advertising, publicity, semantics, etc. In addition, public relations is generally taken to include such working tools as the press, radio, motion pictures, printing, public speaking and professional writing. (p. 544).

  • My vote is for #2. While #1 starts off fairly well, it lacks words that truly define each and every part of PR and I don’t think the use of ‘stakeholders’ is a good idea. Like other are saying, you shouldn’t have to define words used in a definition

  • My vote is for #2. While #1 starts off fairly well, it lacks words that truly define each and every part of PR and I don’t think the use of ‘stakeholders’ is a good idea. Like other are saying, you shouldn’t have to define words used in a definition

  • I think the first option is the closest. I think the management function, ethics, and relationship elements are key in whatever final definition evolves. 

  • I think the first option is the closest. I think the management function, ethics, and relationship elements are key in whatever final definition evolves. 

  • My initial reaction favors #1, although I dislike the word “stakeholder.”  In a marketing or sales context, the consumer is hardly a stakeholder, since he or she may have many other options and this has no real “stake” in what a company has to offer and whether or not it succeeds.

  • My initial reaction favors #1, although I dislike the word “stakeholder.”  In a marketing or sales context, the consumer is hardly a stakeholder, since he or she may have many other options and this has no real “stake” in what a company has to offer and whether or not it succeeds.

  • My favorite is #1.  I think ethics is an important component of how public relations should be practiced.  My academic research includes studying senior public relations practitioners’ roles as ethical counselors to management.

  • Ugh! Good grief, we’re back to the relationship-building-PR definitions again. I knew that was coming. As I’ve argued elsewhere, I don’t think the definitions that are based on relationship-building are good or even particularly accurate, but I do appreciate the democratic way in which the candidate definitions have been arrived at. I also understand the psychological and professional development reasons why PR pros want these definition types (as opposed to just defining the thing as what PRs actually do on a day to day basis). However, I think these definition types suffer from a skewed bias; I think if you polled the respondents you’d find that 90% or more were PR practitioners. So, obviously the definitions are going to be skewed and should not, in my opinion, be taken as representative of the way the common public views PR.

    At any rate, I think #2 is the best.

    Eric Bryant, Director
    Gnosis Media Group

  • Ugh! Good grief, we’re back to the relationship-building-PR definitions again. I knew that was coming. As I’ve argued elsewhere, I don’t think the definitions that are based on relationship-building are good or even particularly accurate, but I do appreciate the democratic way in which the candidate definitions have been arrived at. I also understand the psychological and professional development reasons why PR pros want these definition types (as opposed to just defining the thing as what PRs actually do on a day to day basis). However, I think these definition types suffer from a skewed bias; I think if you polled the respondents you’d find that 90% or more were PR practitioners. So, obviously the definitions are going to be skewed and should not, in my opinion, be taken as representative of the way the common public views PR.

    At any rate, I think #2 is the best.

    Eric Bryant, Director
    Gnosis Media Group

  • I like the first definition because of its focus on ethical communication.  I am conducting academic research with senior public relations practitioners on their experiences providing ethical counsel to senior management. They have said public relations is about doing the right thing not just communication.

  • I like the first definition because of its focus on ethical communication.  I am conducting academic research with senior public relations practitioners on their experiences providing ethical counsel to senior management. They have said public relations is about doing the right thing not just communication.

  • #2 is the best. It’s clear, succinct and almost jargon free (with the exception of “key publics”). I’d like to think “in an ethical manner” goes without saying. If it needs to be stated, it could be added to the end of #2.

  • #2 is the best. It’s clear, succinct and almost jargon free (with the exception of “key publics”). I’d like to think “in an ethical manner” goes without saying. If it needs to be stated, it could be added to the end of #2.

  • Yikes – not a fan of any of these.  As SVP of marketing at my company with PR reporting to me and someone that works in the communications field at Business Wire, these definitions don’t help management assess the critically important nature of public relations.

    Reputation management is of vital strategic importance to any company, group or individual and it’s a fragile yet material aspect that is at the heart of what effective public relations manages best.  During a crisis, in promotional efforts, in social media engagement, reputation management is the foundation of PR. 

    PR needs to reach into every aspect of an organization to ensure that
    every employee or parnter recognizes they are a guardian of the
    organization’s reputation.

    I’d argue that Public Relations ensures that communications and audience engagement from all areas of the organization furthers the positive reputation of the company, group or individual represented in support of the organization’s defined goals. 

    PR needs to reach into every aspect of an organization to ensure that every employee or parnter recognizes they are a guardian of the organization’s reputation.

  • Yikes – not a fan of any of these.  As SVP of marketing at my company with PR reporting to me and someone that works in the communications field at Business Wire, these definitions don’t help management assess the critically important nature of public relations.

    Reputation management is of vital strategic importance to any company, group or individual and it’s a fragile yet material aspect that is at the heart of what effective public relations manages best.  During a crisis, in promotional efforts, in social media engagement, reputation management is the foundation of PR. 

    PR needs to reach into every aspect of an organization to ensure that
    every employee or parnter recognizes they are a guardian of the
    organization’s reputation.

    I’d argue that Public Relations ensures that communications and audience engagement from all areas of the organization furthers the positive reputation of the company, group or individual represented in support of the organization’s defined goals. 

    PR needs to reach into every aspect of an organization to ensure that every employee or parnter recognizes they are a guardian of the organization’s reputation.

  • I’d go with No. 2 if I had to make the selection, but all three have their merits (I know, that’s not very helpful in a decision-making process … ;-)). 

    I’m undecided on the mention of “ethical” in the definition: while it’s of key importance to me personally, should it really part of the definition of a fuction or a process? Meaning: is unethical communication which fulfills the other criteria of public relations by definition not “PR”? Or simply “unethical PR”? Or, if not, what else would we call it? 

  • I’d go with No. 2 if I had to make the selection, but all three have their merits (I know, that’s not very helpful in a decision-making process … ;-)). 

    I’m undecided on the mention of “ethical” in the definition: while it’s of key importance to me personally, should it really part of the definition of a fuction or a process? Meaning: is unethical communication which fulfills the other criteria of public relations by definition not “PR”? Or simply “unethical PR”? Or, if not, what else would we call it? 

  • I like number two best- it’s clear and concise. I especially like the inclusion of the word ‘process’ in the definition because it connotes fluidity rather than a rigid, formulaic approach to PR. While there are good elements to the first definition, I think the ending “achieve results”  sounds awkward. It left me asking the question- ‘What results?’ 

  • I like number two best- it’s clear and concise. I especially like the inclusion of the word ‘process’ in the definition because it connotes fluidity rather than a rigid, formulaic approach to PR. While there are good elements to the first definition, I think the ending “achieve results”  sounds awkward. It left me asking the question- ‘What results?’ 

  • I think the term itself has become antiquated.  It is time to retire PR and replace it with something like strategic communications.

  • I think the term itself has become antiquated.  It is time to retire PR and replace it with something like strategic communications.

  • I like # 2 but really would like to see the word “management” worked into the definition.

    “Public relations is a strategic MANAGEMENT process that develops and maintains communications that foster mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their key publics”

  • I like # 2 but really would like to see the word “management” worked into the definition.

    “Public relations is a strategic MANAGEMENT process that develops and maintains communications that foster mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their key publics”

  • I like #2. As Stacie said, it’s clear and concise. I also like the phrasing ‘between organizations and their key publics.’

  • I like #2. As Stacie said, it’s clear and concise. I also like the phrasing ‘between organizations and their key publics.’

  • #3…with this: public relations is the negotiation between organizations and individuals to achieve meaning and mutually managed goals and outcomes. 

  • #3…with this: public relations is the negotiation between organizations and individuals to achieve meaning and mutually managed goals and outcomes. 

  • If we’re running these through the jargon removal machine, I vote for “engaging” to be edited out of the first definition. It’s really an adjective.  Plus, the definition already has “collaborating” and “communicating.”  Okay, that’s enough engaging for me tonight. 

  • If we’re running these through the jargon removal machine, I vote for “engaging” to be edited out of the first definition. It’s really an adjective.  Plus, the definition already has “collaborating” and “communicating.”  Okay, that’s enough engaging for me tonight. 

  • Is it too late to offer a fourth definition?
    Public relations is the strategic management function that utilizes planning, research, education and communications to achieve positive outcomes and mutually beneficial relationships between organizations, individuals and stakeholders. 

  • Is it too late to offer a fourth definition?
    Public relations is the strategic management function that utilizes planning, research, education and communications to achieve positive outcomes and mutually beneficial relationships between organizations, individuals and stakeholders. 

  • I’m partial to #2, because it most closely resembles my own definition that I’ve been using for several years, and that I’ve learned makes sense to and resonates with my team, our clients, and other constituents. “Public relations is the process of shaping the dialogue and managing the communication between an organization and its publics.”

  • I’m partial to #2, because it most closely resembles my own definition that I’ve been using for several years, and that I’ve learned makes sense to and resonates with my team, our clients, and other constituents. “Public relations is the process of shaping the dialogue and managing the communication between an organization and its publics.”

  • I enjoy many of these comments posted here more than any of these suggested “new” definitions.

    For instance, Rick is on to something when he says the term “PR” itself may need to be replaced… not an altogether bad idea. I also agree with Tom and feel none of the suggested definitions portray the critical role public relations plays in organizational strategy, management, development and messaging – I like his argument that “PR ensures that communications and audience enagement from all areas of the organization furthers the positive reputation of the company, group or individual in support of the organization’s defined goals.”

    As for my own reactions:
    #1 – I have a strong negative reaction to the word “stakeholder.” This fits few situations in what should be a current definition of PR. As well, I feel this definition is almost defensive in tone. We should not need to state “in an ethical manner” in our definition. Additionally, it is unnecessary to include a laundry list of functions in this redefinition of our profession. Should we want a laundry list that is in neither concise or all-inclusive we can simply return to the original definition given by Bernays in the early 1900’s.

    #2 – I am not totally against this definition – although “strategic communication process” doesn’t sit right with me. PR is much more than a “strategic communication process” and I feel like the emphasis on relationships as the main function is a disservice to our profession. Finally, I feel like this definition begs the question “to what end?” 

    #3 – I am a big fan of “realize strategic goals.”  Those three words are probably the best way to say what it seems you are trying to say (in #1 “build mutually beneficial relationships and achieve results” – which is somewhat ambiguous.  And, in #2 “develop and maintain mutually beneficial relationships” – which is lacking). This definition is concise, although it seems like a simple rewording of the previous PRSA definition – essentially replacing “helps” with “engagement between”. It would be ashame for this tedious and thoughtful process to be much ado about nothing, so I feel we owe it to ourselves to be a bit more innovative with our new definition.

  • I enjoy many of these comments posted here more than any of these suggested “new” definitions.

    For instance, Rick is on to something when he says the term “PR” itself may need to be replaced… not an altogether bad idea. I also agree with Tom and feel none of the suggested definitions portray the critical role public relations plays in organizational strategy, management, development and messaging – I like his argument that “PR ensures that communications and audience enagement from all areas of the organization furthers the positive reputation of the company, group or individual in support of the organization’s defined goals.”

    As for my own reactions:
    #1 – I have a strong negative reaction to the word “stakeholder.” This fits few situations in what should be a current definition of PR. As well, I feel this definition is almost defensive in tone. We should not need to state “in an ethical manner” in our definition. Additionally, it is unnecessary to include a laundry list of functions in this redefinition of our profession. Should we want a laundry list that is in neither concise or all-inclusive we can simply return to the original definition given by Bernays in the early 1900’s.

    #2 – I am not totally against this definition – although “strategic communication process” doesn’t sit right with me. PR is much more than a “strategic communication process” and I feel like the emphasis on relationships as the main function is a disservice to our profession. Finally, I feel like this definition begs the question “to what end?” 

    #3 – I am a big fan of “realize strategic goals.”  Those three words are probably the best way to say what it seems you are trying to say (in #1 “build mutually beneficial relationships and achieve results” – which is somewhat ambiguous.  And, in #2 “develop and maintain mutually beneficial relationships” – which is lacking). This definition is concise, although it seems like a simple rewording of the previous PRSA definition – essentially replacing “helps” with “engagement between”. It would be ashame for this tedious and thoughtful process to be much ado about nothing, so I feel we owe it to ourselves to be a bit more innovative with our new definition.

  • If we only have those three from which to choose, I’d have to vote for #2 (which is essentially the definition from Cutlip, Center & Broom I learned for my APR back in the late 80s). The first one sounds like a “Frankenstein’d” definition with stuff bolted on in every direction, and the third leaves a helluva lot on the table that differentiates our profession from a host of others. Heck, #3 describes just about every profession, from sales person and project manager to therapist and barista.

    My vote comes from Long and Hazelton who defined public relations thusly:

    “Public relations is a communication function of management through which organizations adapt to, alter or maintain their environments for the purpose of achieving organizational goals.”

  • If we only have those three from which to choose, I’d have to vote for #2 (which is essentially the definition from Cutlip, Center & Broom I learned for my APR back in the late 80s). The first one sounds like a “Frankenstein’d” definition with stuff bolted on in every direction, and the third leaves a helluva lot on the table that differentiates our profession from a host of others. Heck, #3 describes just about every profession, from sales person and project manager to therapist and barista.

    My vote comes from Long and Hazelton who defined public relations thusly:

    “Public relations is a communication function of management through which organizations adapt to, alter or maintain their environments for the purpose of achieving organizational goals.”

  • I vote for #1. Recognising PR as a management function is key for clients and organisations in understanding the value of the PR function. I also appreciate that it breaks down PR into “researching, engaging, communicating, and collaborating”, rather than solely communicating. I also like including the achievement of results in the definition, as people outside PR sometimes do not see how it creates or contributes to results.

    PR should of course be ethical, though – as others have – said this should be an expectation we have of ourselves, and perhaps does not need to be included in this definition. It could perhaps help though toward PR being seen by others as more than just spin.

  • I vote for #1. Recognising PR as a management function is key for clients and organisations in understanding the value of the PR function. I also appreciate that it breaks down PR into “researching, engaging, communicating, and collaborating”, rather than solely communicating. I also like including the achievement of results in the definition, as people outside PR sometimes do not see how it creates or contributes to results.

    PR should of course be ethical, though – as others have – said this should be an expectation we have of ourselves, and perhaps does not need to be included in this definition. It could perhaps help though toward PR being seen by others as more than just spin.

  • Number 2 is short and free of jargon. Most likely to be understood by outsiders (i.e. management, CEOs or such). I agree with others that this process has been inspiring to see PRSA undertake because of its inclusive.

  • I choose No. 1 because it offers a complete picture of the role and intention of the public relations process. No. 3 is essentially meaningless in terms of defining a unique profession.

  • I agree with Roger and Kirk, but have thought from the beginning that the total effort and and resources put into this whole effort could have been much better spent doing something else.

  • I choose #3 – simple and direct. A couple of thoughts – this is a definition of PR, not of who we are as practitioners (i.e., managers) or how we operate (i.e., ethically).  That said, if #2 emerges as the new definition, I like Kirk Hazlett’s modification.

  • I would combine elements of 1 & 2: “Public relations is a strategic, ethical communications management function meant to foster positive collaboration among organizations and their key stakeholders to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.”

  • I prefer number 1, even though it is a bit long. The other two definitions have added nothing that truly defines what practitioners do to people who don’t understand the profession. I like “management function” included as well as the reference to ethics. Not a fan of the word strategic. It’s become corporate jargon. The third definition leaves too much to the imagination.

  • Number 1 is gobbledygook. It’s the former journalist in me, no doubt but drop the jargon — who cares if it’s a management function? What the heck is a management function anyway? you can’t define something with a bunch of terms that need to be defined. On number 2: honestly, it’s not usually about mutual benefit. It is about mutual understanding and engagement toward goals which are best when they are strategic. I like number 3.

    • As another former journalist, I absolutely agree about the gobbledygook in #1! I read this and thought: “Huh? All this build-up and we get THIS!!???” Actually, I was underwhelmed by all three, although #3 is definitely the best of the lot. None exemplify the kind of clear and unambiguous communication I would expect of the best PR practitioners. All these suggested definitions bear the telltale signs of Committee Think.

      • SBengel and KathyW – no doubt you must know that PRs are notorious and uncannily skilled in talking gobbledygook? 😉

  • No. 2 nails it. All are good, but Nos. 1 and 3 seem to have an agenda beyond defining what public relations truly is. From No. 2, you have a relatively subjective foundation from which to advance agendas for our profession and the PR function.

  • I like #2 because of its emphasis on strategic communication. Also, as others have said, it’s understandable by people outside the profession. I like the emphasis on “management function” in #1, but it’s too long. # 3 could just be a description of what people are trying to accomplish in personal relationships — achieve understanding and realize goals.  

  • Owning a small business for over thirty years, I use the principals taught to me by my father Grant Robbins, a long standing public relations man from San Francisco, I’ve found creativity to be the number one asset of any public relations venture. In todays world of social media often managed by business owners on their own, it’s the creative person’s edge in leading a successful campaign. I’m surprised  the word ‘creativity’, or ‘original ideas’, is not part of your top words. Without original ideas, any other principal falls short of capturing an audience in a robust fashion. 

  • I agree with Amy Cronin. I like #3 the best. Never been a fan of the phrase “mutually beneficial relationships.” Sound too much like jargon. It’s ironic that a profession that lives and dies by effective communications struggles so to come up with a simple, clear definition of what it does.

  • I like #1, especially as Bill Bradley has modified it. It would be nice to include something about the strategic planning function as well, although I do understand concerns that the word “strategic” has become jargon. If this definition is designed to tell those outside the profession what we do, I think it is very important to include the word “ethical.” Too often, the term “public relations” is used in lieu of “spin” or “publicity” in the media and by some who call themselves practitioners. We need to ensure that employers and clients understand the importance of ethics in true public relations. In number 2, the word “process” hits a wrong note for me. The dictionary says “process” is “a systematic series of actions directed to some end.” It seems to describe what we do day-to-day rather than the function of public relations within an organization.

  • Definitely #2. Definition #1 is just a wordy, convoluted mess. Definition #3 isn’t bad, per se, and if #2 wasn’t in the mix, I’d probably select it.

    But I really like the fact that #2 addresses the fact that PR is about developing AND MAINTAINING relationships. It’s not just about “one and done.” It’s about the long term.

  • I like 2.  I think 1 and 3 get too specific.  In 2, “relationships,” “key publics” and “strategic communication” leave room for multiple interpretations depending on industry/specialty, etc.

  • Great debate with very interesting comments. For my part, #2 reflects the most what my view of the practice has become over the years.

  • Those are toooooo PR-ish.
    How ’bout something more “authentic.”  How ’bout:  Public Relations is the psuedo industry of
    sorta professional feel-good leveragers and assumption-based bias purveyors? Better
    yet… The International Codified Brand of Mommy Blogger Managers and Digital Schmooze
    Mongers (ICB-MBM-DSM)?  Maybe just plain chatty
    “friendz” for hire.  

     

    Just a thought.

     

    Brian Connolly

  • As a journalism/pr student I prefer option 2 however it could be improved by adding ethics into the mix. Option 1 is too wordy and option 3 is ok but not quite right. 

  • Had fun discussing the entire #PRDefined initiative with my PR Research class this morning at Belmont University. The students examined the three candidate definitions (for necessary and sufficient conditions) and nearly all agreed that #2 comes the closest to effectively defining the field they are studying accurately and succinctly. 

    And, I concur given the three candidates. However, I think I’ll stick with my own definition until a better one emerges:

    http://www.kevinstrowbridge.com/blog/2012/01/12/prdefinition/

  • In the commercial world I inhabit, surely PR must have a commercial bottom-line impact that adds strategic value, otherwise it is nothing but a feel-good lever that will be ignored in the boardroom. Through this lens, #3 covers it best for me.

    • My point exactly. Without considering this: “PR must have a commercial bottom-line impact” , any definition is just words on a page, IMO

  • How can any college professor teach Public Relations and not clearly define what Public Relations is? The first question should be…how do we make a definition? There is a “definition” in any dictionary, however unsatisfactory. The goal is to write the shortest definintion that covers the field while separating it from all other endeavors so it can stand alone. For example:

    Publilc Relation is “the communications process (because that is what it is, a  communications process) by which a person or organization works with its publics to achieve mutual goals.”  (The process is conducted between people or organizations of people and must work to achieve mutual goals…otherwise it is probably not ethical.)

    What other field can use this 17 word definition? Marketing? No, marketing has as its primary goal the support for the selling of a product.  Advertising? No, advertising, like marketing, has its goal the encouragement of people to buy an idea or product. Political campaigning? No, politics is war (and usually as unethical) in order to win. (There is  no second place in poliltics.)

    I don’t expect those working in Corporate or Agency PR practitioners (who make up the largest ahd strongest entities in the PR field) would agree with my definnition. Nor do I beleive lobbyists or perhaps union PR workers would accept this definition. So be it.  Everyone in the PR field state that “PR is what I do.” Yes, but that’s not a definition.

    The key element in the definition in a democracy is “the people.” If we don’t communicate honestly and fully, we are neither ethical or professional. Education PR practitioners who cover up scandals or feed the public misinformation are unprofessional and dishonest. Politicians who are corrupt but their PR agents paint them as heroes are corrupt. Pharmaceutical or Automobile publicists who praise bad products they market peerform illegal acts and can be prosecuted. So, the elements of ethics and professionalism are one in the same and needn’t be included in the definition.

     Hence, there is a requirement that the goals of the communication process include mutual and ethical goals. The goal of the practitioner is not just ot make money or “sell” and idea. The goal of the person or organization must be equally above board and honest. And both parties must agree. Integrity, like creativity and honesty, are more than just words.                     

    Finally, our definition of PR must separate the career field from all other career fields and professions. Medicine has a definition. Law has a definition, Clergy has another definition.
    None are PR and PR is none of them or fits the definition of a plumber, carpenter, fisherman, senator, or left tackle.

    The next discussion should be about defining a profession.  Are we or aren’t we?

    And then there is journalism…(Now that’s a long discussion…)

  • Of the three, the only one I relate to is #2.  The all seem boring, though.  You need a writer who can make the definition more vibrant.  Dull, dull, and dull — but the profession is not dull at all.

  • Thank you to all for the terrific opinions and input you are sharing here. This is exactly the type of feedback we need as PRSA and its global partners revise the candidate definitions in preparation for the public vote in mid-February.

    We’re going to stay out of the discussion (for now) to allow everyone to be heard. Thanks for contribution and being a part of the “Public Relations Defined” initiative.

    Keith Trivitt
    Associate Director
    PRSA

  • For No. 3, shouldn’t “between” be “among?” To anyone who practices public relations: How often are your efforts restricted to direct one-way or two-way interactions? Anyone who has practiced PR knows that this engagement can take place in five or six different directions at once.

    The phrase “mutual understanding,” besides being oddly vague, also seems restrictive. And is a “mutual understanding” really the end goal? It makes us sound like brokers of the organization’s message.

  • The definitions are missing the fact that there is a business purpose and desired outcome for all PR. If I didn’t know what my day job was, I’m not sure any of these definitions would help me grasp what the heck it is that I do. 

    Public Relations is strategic
    communications for an organization designed to drive audience engagement and
    awareness for specific business purposes.

  • I appreciate everyone’s effort and realize alot of energy and thought have gone into this process. It appears that 10-12 pre-disposed words were shuffled around into 3 different sentences.  The redefinitions do not truly start from scratch and create a simple definition understood by a non-PR person. A longstanding problem has been that not even our mothers know what we do. In addition, it is important that we are able to define our jobs to non-PR poeple. Here’s my adaptation of #1.
    Public Relations serves as an ethical management role to build relationships and achieve positive results among companies, organizations, publics, customers and the community.

  • I appreciate everyone’s effort and realize alot of energy and thought have gone into this process. It appears that 10-12 pre-disposed words were shuffled around into 3 different sentences.  The redefinitions do not truly start from scratch and create a simple definition understood by a non-PR person. A longstanding problem has been that not even our mothers know what we do. In addition, it is important that we are able to define our jobs to non-PR poeple. Here’s my adaptation of #1.  Public Relations serves as an ethical management role to build relationships and achieve positive results among companies, organizations, publics, customers and the community.

  • I vote for #2, but wish it included the word “ethical” like definition #1.
    Here’s the one I came up with: Public Relations is a strategic communications process used to develop and maintain ethical and mutually beneficial relationships, between organizations and their key stake holders, to achieve business objectives.
    JLK

  • I vote for #2, but wish it included the word “ethical” like definition #1. Here’s the one I came up with: Public Relations is a strategic communications process used to develop and maintain ethical and mutually beneficial relationships, between organizations and their key stake holders, to achieve business objectives.

  • Like some others who have commented, I think the phrases “achieve results” and “realize strategic goals” are too vague. Of the three candidates, I’m favoring #2. Still, I think there is opportunity through this initiative to emphasize the “big picture” importance of public relations. Here’s another take to contribute to the conversation:

    “Public relations facilitates relationships for organizations and their publics to fulfill mutual objectives for the benefit of business, community and society.”

  • I’m a stay at home mom who worked in this area for almost 10 years and I think I will say that Public Relations is: The business science that makes, in an ethical and strategic way, that two or more audiences build a relationship that makes them feel engaged and in complete communication to achieve goals and receive benefits that satisfy every audience involved.

  • Number two is the most accurate and really the only one I could see myself saying to a client or non-PR person asking about what I do.

    I do think the clause identifying “organizations and their key publics” is unnecessary and restrictive. Simply stating “Public relations is a strategic communication process that develops and maintains mutually beneficial relationships” would have been enough.

  • Public relations is the practice of symmetrical communication on multiple platforms that has become an integral part of maintaining the reputation of an organisation, through public engagement and strategic management of relationships in a rapidly changing society.

  • This is the one we use at Ferris State University’s Public Relations program: Public relations is a clear, ethical, and planned communication process coordinated by top management to influence, educate, and reinforce targeted publics. 

    But out of the three used, I think #2 is the best. Very clear.

  • I like #1, but would drop “collaborating” from the list. I also prefer stakeholders over key publics.  I’m also not sure that “mutually beneficial” should be included in the definition. While that can be a great goal on some issues, it’s often not feasible, especially when there are a large number of diverse stakeholders involved.

  • Public Relations is a management function that establishes, builds and/or maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its publics, on whom, its successes and/or failures depend.

    That is your new definition of PR.

  • While many have “voted” for #2, I think it presents some real limitations with the advent of social media. What I like about 1 and 3 is the concept of engagement, and collaboration with stakeholders. I think it is a bit overblown to say that PR pros or the discipline can foster mutually beneficial relationships, and more realistic to find a mutual understanding. Also, what is missing from #2 are the results and goals, which with the focus on the business case for PR should be incorporated — PR needs to move beyond a strategic communications process to get to the C-Suite mindset.

  • As ever, the profession synthesizes all the previous good ideas into a phrase that only a PR executive could love (and understand), but it leaves open the opportunity for the ad agency — or law firm — to sell around Public Relations by quoting any of these phrases as saying, “You know, those guys are the mechanics … you only need a mechanic to make repairs … We (ad guy, lawyer) are the communicators.”

  • #2.  I feel it covers the variety or profession can have well – some people do social media, some do public affairs, some do crisis response.  But the bottom line is that we all develop and maintain relationships in one way or another – the heart of PR after all is our ability to cultivate relationships.  I hesitate to suggest adding something about ethics – is it really something we grapple with today more so than any other business profession? 

  • I agree with #2 the most.

    The first one focuses on task. The last one seems to imply that PR just exists as “engagement between organizations”. That doesn’t describe strategic function, but rather a state of being.

  • I can’t help writing this, folks. Can you really hear yourself using these words to describe what you do? If I described my job this way over dinner with my family, they’d make me pick up the tab. And regarding def #2, whenever I hear someone use the word strategic, I roll my eyes and think:  Reaching. 

    None of these definitions are what I would hold up as a calling card for cogent, concise communication. We’re the folks who write in plain English, right? These definitions sound like something the company legal counsel and HR vp edited the life out of. 

    Why not use Merriam-Webster? I think it defines PR something like this:  Public relations is the business of getting the public to understand and like a person, company or institution.

  • Why do none of these 3 potential definitions of our PR profession even mention the word “marketing”? Still, I like Samantha Bankey’s definition, below, from Ferris State University that emphasizes “clear, ethical and planned” communications. But 100% of my clients see PR as a marketing discipline – shying away from “marketing” when defining PR is like physicians defining their role without using the words ‘medicine,” “healthcare” or “wellness.”

    • Good point, Paul. That’s been my one of my points all along. The definitions don’t seem to take into account, well, reality. Or, how the average person (or our clients) view PR. To me, it makes little sense to define someone so far away from how people conceive it in everyday practice. But here we are.

  • Interesting conversation – I prefer definition #1 because unlike the others, it is inclusive of all PR functions as a management role: communications, face-to-face relationships, the essential aspect of research, and the spirit that PR is collaborative and solution oriented not simply reactive.

  • I don’t know that developing a new definition for public relations is particularly desirable.
    As others have stated in this discussion, any definition inclusive of the wide range of philosophies possessed and activities performed by practitioners of our craft/profession must be so general as to be weak and ineffective.
    However, since you are proceeding with this initiative, here is my opinion of the candidates:
    #1 is overblown;#3 suffers from the simplistic generalization I mentioned;
    #2 is not much better, but doesn’t make me wince, as do the other two.

    • You should take a look at my conversation stream about the new PRSA definitions. A definition should be succinct and illuminate instead of cloud. I think these definitions cloud and I fear this process is indicative of a larger identify crisis of our profession and perhaps, PRSA. Take a look http://www.getsocialpr.com. Your thoughts are welcome

  • I immediately gravitated toward Definition No. 2 because I can’t imagine public relations being defined as anything less than a strategic process.  Could it be that “modern” public relations is actually more of a management function? Yes, perhaps it is. And it is certainly nice to envision the relationships as symbiotic, but I think that at its core, public relations is more strategic than collaborative. I also feel that describing it as a process (constantly evolving and changing) is much more fitting than characterizing it as a management function or a simple engagement.

  • I immediately gravitated toward Definition No. 2 because I can’t imagine public relations being defined as anything less than a strategic process.  Could it be that “modern” public relations is actually more of a management function? Yes, perhaps it is. And it is certainly nice to envision the relationships as symbiotic, but I think that at its core, public relations is more strategic than collaborative. I also feel that describing it as a process (constantly evolving and changing) is much more fitting than characterizing it as a management function or a simple engagement.

  • I immediately gravitated toward Definition No. 2 because I can’t imagine public relations being defined as anything less than a strategic process.  Could it be that “modern” public relations is actually more of a management function? Yes, perhaps it is. And it is certainly nice to envision the relationships as symbiotic, but I think that at its core, public relations is more strategic than collaborative. I also feel that describing it as a process (constantly evolving and changing) is much more fitting than characterizing it as a management function or a simple engagement.

  • As the 100th comment mark is being reached, I worry that the only voices appear to come from american or maybe (…???) anglosaxon countries.
    Clearly, if this exercise is aimed at a global definition, this is a major issue that coordinators must consider!
    Of the 4 million pr professionals in the world, not more than 700 thousand are north americans and possibly another 300 thousand are from other anglosaxon countries.
    So, one out of four professionals somehow relate to this discussion whose consequences are likely to bear also on the other three.
    Solution?

    Maybe one suggestion could be ask commenters to indicate country of origin.

    Another would be to urge leaders of all the 67 national associations who belong to the global alliance (part of this coalition) to urge their members to participate (for anyone who speaks italian see here as an example of yesterday http://www.ferpi.it/ferpi/novita/notizie_ferpi/notizie_ferpi/verso-una-nuova-definizione-di-relazioni-pubbliche/notizia_ferpi/43799/11).

    I am absolutely confident that the organizers really didn’t realize the complexity of what they were going in for when they decided to begin the exercise.
    But now they are in for it and they must come to a conclusion.

    My suggestion:
    every profession’s traditional walls and boundaries are collapsing and everchanging.
    Public relations – being one of the more recent ones – has many less cultural and historical skeletons to get rid of.
    No one definition today can encompass all the facets of our (or any other) profession.
    The conclusion of the well worth while exercise (useful also for other professions who are dwelling similar issue) could well be:
    rather than ‘onanistically’ asking oursevles who we are and what we stand for, we should focus our collective and crowdsourcing attention on understanding, monitoring and advocating the value we bring to organizations and society.

  • Thanks for all your good work, and wishing you continued success.  When I first started in public relations, I described what I did, fundamentally, as “building relationships with [my organization’s] various publics.”  Hence, “public” and “relations.”  That seemed short and pointed enough to serve as a first-level answer.  I could then quickly add that “this involves using a variety of communication techniques to explain and gain support for what [the organization] does.” Discussions of ethics, techniques and mutual benefits could follow.  Of the three currently proposed definitions, I  vote for #2.  I also suggest you take a look at a post by Kevin S. Trowbridge, who has a nice discussion of this matter at http://www.kevinstrowbridge.com. Kathryn K. Wheeler, A.P.R.

  • I am sad to say, but if these 3 definitions is all, that resulted from the crowdsourcing project, this undertaking is a massive failure and an intellectual offense, as it adds nothing new to the 500+ definitions that are already out there, and, even worse, falls back to one of the best and most pragmatic definitions: “Public relation is the management of communication between organization and its publics”

    Compare this to what you present:
    #1:
    – “ethical manner”: This wakes doubts, that PR could be unethical in the first place. It is thus a mediocre attempt to legitimize PR.
    – “mutually beneficial relationships”: we live in a competitive world, right? So forget about win-win. A fair competition is the most beneficial for everybody. The team that wins, gets the trophy. The team that looses will improve. What´s your next proposal? Calling all NFL games a draw by default?
    – “achieve results”: Come on, you can´t be serious. Everything we do in a company has to achieve results, and you know what: The best result PR can achieve are lasting relations.

    #2: in addition to the “mutually beneficial relationships”
    – “key publics” How could you possibly tell, who your key publics are, when a global audience can switch its attention to you in the blink of an eye? And, depending on the subject matter, they will force you into a relationship before you can spell “not my key public”.
    – even if: How would develop and maintain?

    #3: the worst
    – “between organizations and individuals”: Ever heard of intercompany relations? B2B-Communication? Will the work contract be considered as PR as it specifies the engagement between an organization (employer) and an individual? Not to speak of the vague definition of what an organization is.

    This is really underwhelming.

  • It seems like we have an identity crisis if we are defining public relations again, all over again. But that’s not my beef with these definitions. We are creative people, and so that should reflect how we define our work. A definition is designed to bring clarity, period. But these do not. Unfortunately, these definitions ooze corporate-speak, which neither explains and enlightens. And that speaks to a much deeper problem with our identify crisis.

    Do we know what we value? A definition like this should speak to our values and offer us a tool to speak to the values of others. This is very personal and at the core of building relationships. I’ve written a post on my blog, Get Social PR, where I try to pinpoint these values and craft them into a definition that is 100% corporate-speak free. I’d like your comments, thoughts and disagreements. Go here: http://bit.ly/zPhucN

  • Number two is the best by far.  It encompasses all the functions and it is clear and succinct.  
    On number one, what does “management’ function mean?  And on number three, “realize strategic goals,” is gobbledygook.

  • This has been really interesting and well done on pulling together some great ideas and inspiring so much debate.

    Personally, I don’t think “mutually beneficial/understanding” has a place in a definition. Yes, it is best practice but is a normative approach the best option for defining a profession.
    Also, a definition that raises more questions than answers is in a precarious starting position… 

    What exactly do you mean by mutuality?
    Can a mutually beneficial in whose eyes?
    Is this type of relationship always desirable?
    If a practitioner is seeking a relationship that only benefits one side do they no longer work in PR?

    Will any of the above definitions help us separate PR in relation to other communication functions and describe what we do to people outside of the industry. Simply, No.

    Yes have higher order goals for the profession but should a definition be about clarity and inclusion or vision and morality. You may not be able to have it all.

  • I’m not too keen on any of these definitions because they are full of corporate-speak, and none of them really get to the core values of public relations. NONE OF THEM.  We know PR is a “management function.” We get it! We know is about building “mutually beneficial relationships.” And we know its “a strategic communication process.”

    There’s nothing new about this and the language is lifeless. A definition is meant to describe, enlighten and imbue the reader with insight. You can read more about what a real definition for PR should be at http://www.getsocialpr.com

    Rodger D. Johnson, MA
    Public Relations Counselor

  • PR is so much more than what is described in all three of these. Really? It appears as though we are being forced to define it in on sentence. Is that the case? If so, it can’t be done. It just simply can’t.

    I’m not satisfied with any of these definitions. But I will say the definition definitely needs include the words “engaging and communicating” in it. Engagement is a KEY part to PR these days… This is why the definition needs to be redefined in the first place.

  • Where I’m at with this now: Derrida.

    “Thus, complete meaning is always “differential” and postponed in
    language; there is never a moment when meaning is complete and total. A
    simple example would consist of looking up a given word in a dictionary,
    then proceeding to look up the words found in that word’s definition,
    etc., also comparing with older dictionaries from different periods in
    time, and such a process would never end.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diff%C3%A9rance#Illustration_of_diff.C3.A9rance)

    In short, PR can’t be defined. Neither can any word be.

    Perhaps instead of talking about “defining” it, we should talk about “operationalizing” it, as we do with scientific experiments in the social sciences (like psychology and sociology). That is, instead of defining what PR is (which is impossible) we define it in a way that “experiments” can be constructed around it, in order to measure, observe, evaluate its effects, results and outcomes.

    Eric Bryant
    Gnosis Media Group

  • Definition #2 is very close to the definition we use at Washington State University and include in our book (Austin & Pinkleton, “Strategic Public Relations Management: Planning and Managing Effective Communication Programs”). We adopted it from Cutlip, Center & Broom’s “Effective Public Relations” text.

    That definition is: “a management function that identifies, establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on which its success or failure depends.”

    I think Cutlip et al.’s phrasing about publics is more clear (strategic) than the phrasing in this newer defnition. Although I  agree with others that adding “a management function” to #2 could be useful, I have a lot of respect for the developers’ concern that the term management seems too “top-down” or “one-way.” Perhaps a nuanced phrasing focused on process but including management as a descriptive term can satisfy both concerns. Although ethical practices should be an assumed requirement for any “mutually beneficial relationship,” I agree with many other posters that “ethical” as a descriptive term would be useful to add to #2.  Research is a requirement for strategic practices, so perhaps that can be assumed without making a further addition.

    Given that many posters have noted that their clients tend to focus on marketing, I’d like to advocate for the position that marketing has a different goal (to cultivate relationships with consumers that will engender product trial and loyalty) from public relations (mutually beneficial relationships serving a variety of purposes) and represents an application of public relations strategies rather than the practice of public relations more broadly.

    I therefore suggest a couple of edits to #2, as follows:
     

    Public relations is a management function that employs
    ethical, strategic communication processes to develop and maintain mutually
    beneficial relationships between organizations and the publics on which their
    success or failure depends.

    Thanks for the opportunity to contribute to this very important and interesting process.

    Erica Weintraub Austin, Professor & Director, Murrow Center for Media & Health Promotion, Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Washington State University

    • Erica,

      I respectfully disagree with your post. But first, your definition mentioned early in you comment is written better that the three PRSA puts forth. But I disagree that marketer’s goal is that distinguished from the goal of public relations professionals.

      Public relations does a better job at bridging relationships with customers (if we are talking in the context of businesses that sell products and services), than marketing professionals. And I think this is a shift that is rapidly taking place in the marketplace. Marketing is great at designing product collateral, figuring out the right price people will pay, and positioning the product or service for sales, but public relations professionals are better at building relationships — or as I say on my blog, building community and fellowship around products and services.

      Marketing and public relations are interdependent, like the heart and circulatory systems, or like the arm and the hand, or the brain and nervous system.

      Thoughts?

  • Number Two looks best. In Number one, I don’t like the ethical part because since we are ethical, at least we should be, we don’t have to say that since WE SHOULD BE. However, some people aren’t in this field so that’s why we should take it out. To me it’s just trying to hard in a sentence. As for Number three, I don’t like the engagement part. What exactly does that mean in this context? It has me questioning well how? So, Number Two is straight to the point about what we do, which is what we need when we tell people what it is we do. 

  • I prefer version 3 because of its simplicity. It is also the one that, in my opinion would be most easily understood by the broadest group possible. The first two just seem to have been written by a committee to appease many different interests and groups.

    I also believe it’s important that people understand there’s a definition (most formal) and then an elevator speech that’s where an individual explains in his/her own words what they do. This can be highly personal and reflect one’s specialty and interests.
    Trying to catch all the specialities and interests in one definition will result in one that no one uses or understands. Thanks to the committee and those involved for this effort.

  • I think the second definition is the best out of all three. I think it’s the best choice because of the certain vocabulary words selected. The words “strategic”, “process”, “mutually beneficial”, “organizations” and “key publics”, combined all demonstrate the core definition of public relations. In my own words I think PR is a process in which a company works with an agency to gain a win-win solution. They must also work with the key publics of the company to get the best applicable data for the evolving needs of the company.

  • My public relations class put these to a vote yesterday, with the majority voting on No. 2, and No. 3 was the second choice.

  • I think number two is the best there; I would add something to it along the lines of “participation from, and engagement with the organizations pushing the effort” so that those mutually beneficial relationships may obtain purpose instead of being used as a false insight toward the public themselves.

  • I like that definition No. 3 has only 17 words, it’s clear and pretty concise in my opinion.

    I don’t care for the fact that there is no mention of management function or strategic communication process in it. That being said, I think No. 3
    has the greatest chance of being understood inside (and outside) the
    industry and I think it captures the logical and distinguishable character of PR.

  • From my point of view, the most appropriate
    definition for PR is the first one, since it encompasses the broad scope
    of the domain and supports its positioning as a management function. It refers to the audience as ‘stakeholders’, which is probably the best choice for the term, being thus in line with the Stockholm Accords and the Barcelona Principles. It
    also emphasizes the role of ethics as well as that of proper research, planning and evaluation, which are prerequisites for good results.

  • Who is the audience for this new definition?  If it’s other PR professionals I think #1.  If the audience is the public, I think it has to be relevant and in plain English…something easily understood by all.  I think #3 accomplishes that.

  • I like the 2. definition.
    But I would add “between AND INSIDE  organizations and their key publics.”
    For companys the inside communication is as vital as talking to your audience and public. And Public Relations must focus on both aspects of the communication procsess.

  • The one I use at my job is support marketing and sales by cultivating favorable relations with its key publics through the use of a variety of communications channels and tools

  • I really like Definition 2 because it uses the term ‘strategic and ‘communication’. Those two terms really encompass what PR is all about. I also enjoyed the term ‘key publics’ rather than ‘stakeholders’ which was used in Definition 1. I would like to see a broader term for ‘publics’ rather then just limiting it to key publics. As I learned in my PR 312 class, sometimes there are publics who are not in your target audience but have the potential to become key publics.

  • Thanks for undertaking this challenge! I like #2 with a bit of #3, but have difficulty with describing what we do as a “process.” Also, if you are blending any of them, I do not see why we need to include “in an ethical manner,” as that implies we would do otherwise if not included. Do other professions include terms such as “done legally” or “in accordance with existing statutes”? Ethical practice should be a given.

  • Thanks for undertaking this challenge! I like #2 with a bit of #3, but
    have difficulty with describing what we do as a “process.” Also, if you
    are blending any of them, I do not see why we need to include “in an
    ethical manner,” as that implies we would do otherwise if not included.
    Do other professions include terms such as “done legally” or “in accordance with existing statutes”? Ethical practice should be a given.

  • #2 is my choice. My issue with #3 is the last words – realize strategic goals. I don’t think individuals, as a person we target to connect and communicate with, typically consider realizing their goals as something they focus on. Their focus is for someone to fix their problem or be able to trust a company or organization to do that. In this day, the definition needs to include the person we try to reach. I just don’t care for all that wordy unnecessary language in #1. Too much – over the top – and does not connect with the average person and this definition should not be one that anyone outside of our profession cannot understand. I do not like the word ethics in there as I think it implies we need to be reminded we need to have ethics or we need to convince others that we have them. That usually backfires.  

  • My vote is for number 2 with a slight amendment — add “ethical.” While number 1 does a great job of detailing the actions that public relations performs, it is too specific for a general audience. High-level and jargon-free — that’s #2.

  • Between the three, I vote for number 2, but I suggest the following version:
    Public relations is the strategic communication that develops and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.
    1) All communication is a process, that’s a given2) Not all public relations efforts are focused on “key” publicsThank you for heralding this important discussion!

  • I notice that the ‘PRSA Notations on the three definitions have conflicts, for example sometimes supporting ‘Publics’ over “Stakeholders’ and sometimes supporting what seems to be the opposite.   There are other seeming inconsistencies so I wonder whether any of these can the best definition until the individual words can be agreed upon.  Seems the experts in communication should grapple with this issue for a while longer.  Maybe that’s what is happening?  That would be good.   Very good.

  • Interesting! But the definitions seem bit inflated. The first partly covers market research. The second could be a certain type of advertising campaign. And the third could be applied to an enlightened sales process. I think they need tightening up. 

  • Public Relations: The ability to persuade an audience on your services/products indirectly with a view to building trust and rapport with your audience.

  • As Bill Gates wisely stated “If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.”

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