Advocacy Thought Leadership

How #PRDefined ‘Gets On with the Work’ of Building PR’s Value

Editor’s note: The following post was submitted as a comment in response to a Jan. 27, 2012, column by PRWeek (US) Editor-in-Chief Steve Barrett regarding the “Public Relations Defined” initiative, which is a PRSA-led international advocacy campaign to modernize the definition of public relations. In the column, “Let’s Cut the Crap and Get On with the Work,” Barrett takes a dismissive view of the initiative and its ability to advance the profession.

Update (3 p.m. EST, Jan. 30): The comment has been published at

I say … this does come as a surprise, what with Julia Hood, Haymarket EVP, helping to plan the [“Public Relations Defined” initiative] last September as then-president of the Arthur W. Page Society, and with Danny Rogers, PRWeek UK editor-in-chief, endorsing the initiative as an “appropriate” endeavour that “matters” because “finding a new definition of PR [will help the] tens of thousands employed within this well-established industry … to more clearly and consistently explain what they do — and the value they add.

Mere technicalities, one supposes, when page views are at stake.

Perhaps it’s worthwhile to hearken back one year ago, to when much of the discussion taking place in the blogosphere centered around the need — and, specifically, the need for PRSA — to modernize the definition of public relations. Had we ignored those discussions, I suspect today’s cheeky headline would have been, “When Will PRSA Get Off Its Arse?”

Damned if you do, I guess … as noted blogger Arik Hanson has rightly pointed out, we are a profession that loves to criticise our own.

Still, we’ll let the profession’s interest in this initiative speak to its worth.

Since the project’s launch Nov. 21, 2011, there have been approximately 300,000 page views of the PRDefined website; 30 trade and business media articles; 50 blog posts; thousands of blog comments (including several by noted public relations theorist James E. Grunig, Ph.D.); 1,000 definitions submitted; 152 observations received during the public comment period; and thousands of Tweets using the #PRDefined hashtag.

Crap? Bloody brilliant, I’d say …

Arthur Yann, APR, is vice president of public relations for the Public Relations Society of America.

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Arthur Yann, APR


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