PR 101

It is quite natural to get caught up in day-to-day work, meetings, client directives, crises and creative initiatives, but I want to make sure my agency sees the forest for the trees, especially considering the recent addition and promotion of several staff members. As a result, periodically, I conduct exercises to remind us of the business we are in, the needs our profession fills, the focus of our efforts, and the value that our experience, counsel and efforts provide.

To assure my team gave this sufficient thought and reflection, I asked our junior and more seasoned staff to give me their best definition of public relations, whether it was their own or another, perhaps, that set them off on their career path.

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My particular favorite has been around for a while, having originated, I believe, years ago with Denny Griswold of Public Relations News: “The management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.”

And, while that works for me, it may be a mouthful for someone – for example one of my junior people – to explain to family members who are trying to understand what their son or daughter, sister or brother, does for a living. So, with the assumption that all organizations need their publics’ goodwill to achieve their goals, here’s a few simpler suggestions from my staff that may help:

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There is one other definition that I like – though at this point I’m not exactly sure of the source – but it takes a strong stand on including the public relations function in all high level executive decision making:  “Managing the creation of goodwill for an organization and its products among audiences that can affect its present and future welfare, including the exertion of influence in the formulation of an organization’s policies and direction.” That’s the seat at the table so many public relations professionals have been advocating for years but only few of us have attained.

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For context, here is the official definition of the Public Relations Society of America: “A strategic communications process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

In my next blog, coming soon, I will summarize the definitions and impressions the Fineman PR team came up with for “Brand PR,” the focus of how we practice our profession, and it may be instructive to understand how we incorporate the definitions above in our practice.

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