As I look for ways to put my current experience at Dorchester Academy together with my decades worth of public relations work, I tend to slide back and forth between the academic and business worlds. I was recently made aware - via the blog of my former colleague Paul Roberts – of an effort by the PRSA to create “a modern definition of PR.” Paul’s blog, in turn, led me to the blog of veteran (in all senses of the word) PR man Frank Storm, who does an excellent job of dissecting the problems involved in such an effort. I dropped a comment onto Frank’s post and he replied with more cogent thoughts on the need to craft a clear definition of public relations as it looks today. Originally, I’d thought that since — in my experience — hardly anyone could define PR, why bother with the histrionics now just because social media has, oh, fundamentally changed the communications landscape. Easy for me to say, as I pursue my teaching jones in a technologically barren high school in Boston, but I really can’t toss 25 years in the high tech public relations world aside so casually. My father is a public relations pro, too, and has a track record in our industry that truly puts him in the “high tech PR pioneer” category. My Dad and I ran Nahil Communications Group together for many years…and, still, my mother wold have a hard time telling you what either of us really did for a living.
In that regard, my Mom shared much with the legion of CEOs, CMOs and other corporate types who have hired public relations agencies, built internal PR teams and spent millions on the public relations function without much of a clue as to why, and often with skewed perceptions of what great PR could do for their organizations.
So, as I relax a little here during February school vacation, I’m going to assume the burden of responsibility for the entire public relations industry (you’re welcome) and try a few iterative definitions of public relations as I know it. Feel free to pass this post around, to comment with your own take, and to tell me I’m as full of BS as the people who wrote the three “choices” that PRSA has on offer. Good public relations people create clear and compelling messages all the time…it’s the corner stone of what we do, first and foremost. So, let’s see what we can come up with. Maybe it will be the mission statement of Paul Roberts’ effort to create the Public Relations Alternative Society.
So, here’s Nahil’s first take on public relations defined:
Public relations is the function within any organization that drives the creation and execution of communications programs that project the organization’s key messaging and positioning to specific audiences. These programs are most often delivered through earned media or owned media channels and, when taken together, serve to build a credible and compelling public image for the organization.
And your thoughts?