Sandra Ericson|Feb 24, 2012

For the past few months, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has been hard at work looking for a modern definition for public relations. The words that define our profession to the rest of the world hadn’t been updated since 1982 and boy, has our role evolved since that day.

The process for redefining PR has been comprehensive and collaborative, with more than 12 global partners weighing in. The initiative has even been covered extensively by the national media, with a focus on how the age of social media has heightened the need to create a definition that stresses the importance of two-way conversations.

As professionals, we all laugh about our friends and family members who have no idea what we actually do. We’ve learned to smile and shake our heads as our parents call us up and say, “We read the article about your client in the paper but it didn’t even mention you!” So wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a clear and concise story to tell about what we do?

As further validation that modern public relations is more two way than top down, PRSA crowdsourced nearly 1,000 submissions (check out the word cloud from this effort), 70 official comments and went through much public deliberation before narrowing down the field to three definitions.

Now we all have the chance to weigh in on the decision. Below are the three definitions. Be sure to make your voice heard by voting for your favorite by Feb. 26.

  • Public relations is the management function of researching, communicating and collaborating with publics to build mutually beneficial relationships.
  • Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.
  • Public relations is the strategic process of engagement between organizations and publics to achieve mutual understanding and realize goals.

*Sandra Fine is accredited in Public Relations by PRSA and the incoming president of the PRSA Miami Chapter.


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