Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Wednesday, PRSA unveiled three candidate definitions for their #PRDefined campaign, one of which will form the basis of a new, modern definition of public relations. PR professionals and the general public are invited to weigh in on the options to help PRSA in choosing – or creating – this new, modern definition of public relations. The “comments period” lasts through January 23 – you can through your thoughts in here. Without further ado – the contenders (plus added commentary):
Definition No. 1:
“Public relations is the management function of researching, engaging, communicating, and collaborating with stakeholders in an ethical manner to build mutually beneficial relationships and achieve results.”
I have a strong negative reaction to the word “stakeholder.” This word is not representative of all PR professionals in what should be a current definition of PR – not a limited description that defines few situations in the field. As well, it is unnecessary to include a laundry list of functions in this redefinition of our profession. And, if we need to state “in an ethical manner” in our definition we have a larger problem with our profession than the need to redefine it.
Definition No. 2:
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that develops and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their key publics.”
Definition No. 3:
“Public relations is the engagement between organizations and individuals to achieve mutual understanding and realize strategic goals.”
I’m disappointed. It seems a committee selected words from the past century of PR definitions and crammed them into 3 new definitions. This is not at all how I imagined this process. This is much ado about nothing. These are not modern or new in any way, but simply a regurgitation of former definitions.
Let’s take a closer look:
In the early 1900′s Edward Bernays (some say the founder of public relations) originally defined PR as:
“A management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organisation with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.”
Doesn’t this sound a lot like Definition No. 1? Should we want a laundry list that is in neither concise or all-inclusive PRSA can apologize for the hubbub and return to the original definition from the early 1900’s.
After several other revised definitions, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) again re-defined PR In 1982 as:
“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”
Doesn’t this definition also sound too similar to our “new, modern” definition contenders?
In the beginning, I struggled to get on board with redefining my profession, forced myself to take part in the process and am (to be blunt) embarrassed by the outcome.
I was under the impression the goal was to create a concise description defining our profession in a modern way that is easily understood by the general public. Why did PRSA not throw out the old, tired words we’ve used for more than a century and begin fresh? We need a new, modern, concise definition defining the uniqueness of the profession while allowing for the intricacies of technological advances and the wide-ranging environments serviced by PR professionals. I hoped this effort would unite those in the profession and educate those outside of it. To the contrary, we have again put ourselves in an awkward position best described by Doc Searls (@dsearls):
“PR has the biggest PR problem of all: people use it as a synonym for BS.”
This was an opportunity to change the negative opinion of our profession. This was a opporunity to start the process of regaining respect. We have failed miserably. We owe it to ourselves to be a bit more innovative with our “new, modern” definition. Back to the drawing board, PRSA.
I love lists. There – I said it. Grocery lists, packing lists, to do lists; I am a bit O.C.D. about organizing my plans. So then, it should be no surprise that I am a New Year’s resolution maker. I don’t do it because it’s the “in” thing to do or because I can’t set goals any other time of year. The end of the year just seems like a finite end to a period of time that I can look back on and determine what I can and should do better – and a new year to look forward to growing, learning and setting new goals for… and making a list.
Several years ago I learned of Chris Brogan’s “3 Words” technique. Chris challenges people to skip resolutions, and instead, come up with 3 words that will help define their goals and experiences for the coming year. I have never participated in his challenge because “3 Words” isn’t much of a list – and, again, I love lists. But this year I felt like I needed focus rather than a laundry list of “things to do”-type resolutions… and this seems like just the way to find that focus.
So without further ado, here are my 3 Words for 2012:
Create ~ Passion ~ Cognizance
This first word is where I can dump all of my typical New Year’s to-do’s and add a “creative” twist. There are always things I’m resolving to do during an upcoming year, but thinking of them as creative processes and a way to create something more meaningful as a result of the task is refreshing for me. For example, one thing on my to-do list is “write”. But it isn’t really that simple. As a result of writing I am creating something – more than just a blog post, document, or story. I’m also creating time for myself to be creative and to express my opinions or feelings – and, hopefully, creating a relationship with the reader, among other things. A few things outside my to-do list I hope to create are compassion, peace, happiness, joy, and inspiration in my life and in the lives of those around me. How I accomplish those is a part of my journey this year… and leads me to the second thing on my list.
In my life I have consistently put aside passion for the sake of work. Fortunately for me, work is one of my passions. Some might even call me a workaholic. But outside of my job, I have passion. This year I will focus on those passions specifically to make sure I do not toss them aside for the sake of business or busyness. In fact, the main reason I have chosen “passion” as one of my 3 words for the year is because this year I will devote time and energy to finding ways to incorporate my passions into my work – or even make them my work. This is a goal that may not come to fruition during this year. It is a process – but I can’t think of a better time to get started.
Defined as “conscious knowledge or recognition” or “the range of what one can know or understand”, cognizance seems the perfect 3rd word. I am guilty of putting my nose to the ground, blinders on, plowing ahead to the end of a task. In 2011 this method was not effective for me or fulfilling either in my professional or personal life. In 2011 I became acutely aware that I was not at all aware. Late in the year I came across a quote from William Arthur Ward (American scholar, author, editor, pastor and teacher). Paraphrased it says: “Before you speak, listen. Before you act, think. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try.”
Basically, be aware of yourself… your words, your actions, your thoughts, your motivations. This is my main focus moving into the new year. I want to have a conscious knowledge of myself and my work, an understanding of why I do the things I do, an appreciation for those around me who support and encourage me, a recognition of others who are working hard on their own 3 words, attention to detail and the little (beautiful) things in life, sensibility to move ahead with courage and integrity into every new moment, and a mindfulness that success is not equal to perfection.
These are my 3 words. What are yours?