PRSA defends the candidate definitions of ‘public relations’

David C. Rickey, the secretary and chair of the PR Defined Task Force, responds to the robust debate about the three possible definitions of ‘public relations.’

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With the release of the three final candidate definitions for public voting, and with the winning definition to be adopted by PRSA, more strong opinions now are being expressed. We certainly anticipated a diversity of opinions and our fair share of criticism, and public relations professionals never disappoint with their passion.

While the objections to the finished product are not overwhelming, there are certain themes of dissatisfaction that we have noticed among detractors. For example:

1. You hate them

• “Sweet mother of confusing sh*t.”
• “They all ‘suck.'”
• “I’ll vote for #4 (none of the above).”
• “None of these even come close to hitting the mark.”
• “We did a better job on my blog.”

In response to these criticisms, we would simply respond: Of course it is; they do; you can; they don’t; and you did. In other words, of course there was going to be criticism.

Nothing more clearly illustrates the reason why the profession hasn’t arrived at a “de facto” definition in more than a century of existence. If someone came up with a definition that everyone loved at some point over the past 112 years, would we be having this conversation?

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