Advocacy Thought Leadership

New Year, Modified Direction for #PRDefined

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It’s an exciting time to be succeeding Rosanna Fiske, APR, as PRSA’s chair and CEO. Economic prospects for the public relations industry appear brighter as we head into an election (and Olympic) year, the profession continues to demonstrate and enhance its value in key service areas and PRSA is leading international collaboration on one of the most discussed projects in the profession’s recent memory: the “Public Relations Defined” initiative.

Carrying on the prescient work that Rosanna initiated in 2011, with the help of 12 allied professional organizations from around the world — and, to wit, every public relations professional who took the time to contribute a definition, make a comment, ask a question or write a blog post — we are moving rapidly toward a more modern definition of public relations.

We have a learned a great deal from the exercise that will serve us well going forward on how to optimally configure initiatives that employ the new channels, bold methodologies and creative conduits that are now prevalent for seeking authentic input from members and the public relations industry at large.

One of the lessons learned is that the anticipation that this initiative has built must be tempered by the responsibility we have to ensure it is handled in a deliberate and considered manner.

As we have said previously in this space, we were pleasantly surprised at the high level of global interest in this initiative and number of definitions submitted. The quantitative and qualitative data arising out of the crowd-sourcing phase were noteworthy. We heard from several of our allied partners that they wouldn’t mind having more time and opportunity to review and provide input on the candidate definitions.

From the beginning, PRSA’s goal has been to create a definition that the entire profession has a role in shaping, which professionals, organizations and academics alike can appreciate and own. With that in mind, I think it’s appropriate for us to take a refreshed perspective and implement a slightly modified direction for #PRDefined; one that will allow for greater input from our partners and the profession, in a manner befitting the project’s stature.

Every good PR program is flexible, and this initiative is no exception.

Tomorrow, we will post the three candidate definitions that PRSA’s Definition of Public Relations Task Force developed in conjunction with our international partners. Rather than putting these definitions to a vote, we will instead open up the forum for public comment and debate.

The qualitative feedback we receive then will be analyzed and presented at a second Definition of PR Summit, which PRSA will host in early February. This Summit will allow our allied partners to make final revisions to the draft definitions based on your feedback. Following that, we will ask you to vote on a preferred definition.

Our intention is to announce the new definition of public relations the week of Feb. 27, following a two-week public voting period.

Regardless of whether you love ‘em, hate ‘em or something in between, be sure to voice your thoughts on the candidate definitions. After all, we want the definition to be yours, as well as ours, and I think you’ll agree that we all want to get it right.

Our instinct is that good things will come to those of us waiting.

Gerard F. Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America.

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Gerard F. Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA


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