Last year, the Public Relations Society of America was muscling through a highly publicized campaign to devise a clear definition of PR.
The organization asked its members and the public for input, compiled the answers, vetted them with other industry groups, and put them up for a vote. The result
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relations between organizations and their publics.”
Does it explain the profession? To an extent, sure. Is it clear? Depends on whom you ask—many people dismissed it as too muddled for public consumption.
PRSA accepted the criticism with aplomb, saying in a column that appeared on PR Daily
: “Regardless of what you think of the final candidate definitions, you can rest easy that no one is forcing you to adopt the ‘winning’ definition. PRSA will, and if you’d like to do the same, great; if not, that’s fine too.”
Recently, PR Newswire entered the definition fray, although its mission wasn’t as comprehensive as that of PRSA. The newswire service asked its followers
on Twitter and Facebook to fill in the blank, “PR is _____.”
Meryl Serouya, a marketing and communications associate at PR Newswire, said the company wanted to start a broad conversation about PR and its growing importance.
“It's undeniable that there has been a huge transformation within the industry and PR has broken through the shackles of being just a media relations function,” she said. “At PR Newswire, we've seen this change firsthand. … We wanted to allow the broader community to participate in the conversation in an easy, fun way.”
PR Newswire launched the effort during the 2012 PRSA International Conference in October because of “the energy and experience among the audience.”
PR Newswire compiled the more than 100 responses it received into an infographic
; they range from simple, one-word answers to some resembling that of the PRSA definition: