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Why redefining PR is not unlike herding cats

By Linda Forrest

The PR industry has been aflutter with activity in response to the recent efforts of the Public Relations Society of America to crowd source a new definition for PR.

Rather than leave it open ended, PRSA has gone with a fill-in-the-blank (in this case, parentheses) approach:

Public relations (does what) with/for (whom) to (with/for) for (what purpose).

If you wish to weigh in, submissions will be accepted at the above link until the end of the week, with a new definition targeted for publication before the end of the year.

It has indeed been quite some time since the term has been defined, nearly 20 years, during which time the means by which public relations is conducted has evolved markedly from dead trees to digital zeros and ones, shifting from a one-way conversation to a multi-stakeholder conversation.

From the PRSA website:

The PRSA 1982 National Assembly formally adopted a definition of public relations, which remains widely accepted and used today:

“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”

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Recent Comments

  • Stephen Murray : Interesting article. I am close to finishing a book titled "Davis and Goliath - One Inventor's Struggle with the Mismanagement and Theft of Intellectual Property." Davis in my book is W.R. Davis Engineering. "Goliath" is the Canadian Department of National Defence. The intellectual property is an infrared signature suppression system to protect warships and tactical aircraft from being targetted by heat seeking missiles. I was a public servant co-inventor in this story. As was the case in the biblical story "David and Goliath," Davis did indeed slay Goliath. Davis is wealthy today. The inventors and the Crown got nothing. But the Crown's negligent acts were to blame for most of outcome. Everything that could have gone wrong in the story did go wrong. My book may interest you. Hope to have it published by year end.

  • Dan Rather’s Words of Wisdom for the PR profession | Return On Reputation : [...] that you are serving a higher purpose than just serving your clients – you are serving public interest and our nation’s [...]

  • 12 Types Of Digital Media You May Not Have Considered Using For Business : [...] and trying to adequately describe it may end up in a 2000 word essay. Hence, we’ll go with Maurice Smith‘s definition, which claims that digital media as content that flows through computer [...]

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