Picture this scene . . . You’re home for Thanksgiving dinner. Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles sit down to a table full of stuffing, rolls, turkey and mashed potatoes. Then grandma asks, “Why don’t you tell us about that new job you’ve taken?” or “Tell us about what you’re doing in school these days.”
How do you explain public relations to your family? Your family might understand what your cousin Sally does as a teacher or your cousin Matt does as a lawyer. But public relations professionals don’t have it that easy.
The daily tasks of a public relations pro can vary so much, sometimes it’s hard to define your own job, much less explain to those with little knowledge of the industry. Defining our industry is made even more difficult with movies and TV shows, like Mad Men or Sex in the City, that portray public relations professionals as party planners or spin doctors.
So how would you explain PR to your grandma?
As young professionals, I need your help! I serve on the National Committee for the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). Our sponsor organization, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), the foremost international organization for public relations pros, has launched a new campaign to redefine public relations for the 21st century. In just two days since the campaign’s launch, Public Relations Defined has received notable coverage in New York Times and Forbes, among several other industry publications.
Over the years, public relations has been defined in many different ways. On her blog, Heidi Cohen lists 31 different definitions for public relations. PRSA has not updated the common definition of public relations since 1982. With recent innovations in communication and technology, it’s time for a change, and we need the input of young professionals and public relations students.
Please share your advice with me to submit to PRSSA, as we consider our organization’s stance on the definition. We are following the definition format used by other business and communication functions, including marketing and advertising. Comment below with your suggestions in the following format:
“Public relations (DOES WHAT) with or for (WHOM) to (DO WHAT) for (WHAT PURPOSE).”
After the submissions are all received, the top three definitions will be announced, and then professionals will be able to vote on their favorite definition. As the future leaders of the industry, this new definition is very important to the rest of our professional careers. Help us to make Public Relations Defined!
How would you explain public relations to you grandma? Use the format above to help guide your definition. You definitions will help PRSSA shape our suggestions on behalf of young professionals.