Note to PR Industry: Stop the Endless Navel-Gazing!
This morning a topic for one of the Public Relations LinkedIn Groups I follow caught my eye. A member posted: “How Would You Define Public Relations in One Sentence.” My colleagues over in market research routinely carp about PR people’s inability to explain (concisely) what we do all day, so I was interested to see how my peers would rally to this call for action.
So far, over 90 comments have been posted. Answers range from “Reputation management” and “Creating the sizzle that sells the steak” to “an applied psychology of intra- and inter-group relations, applied to attempts to influence behavior.” (Whew.) The consensus is…no consensus.
The official Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) definition also lacks clarity: “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” Wikipedia says PR is “the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc.” Better, but still vague.
History isn’t on our side, either. Back in the days of PR pioneers Ivy Ledbetter Lee and Edward Bernays, the practice was labeled with terms like “public persuasion campaigns,” “crowd psychology” and “propaganda.” In fact, Ledbetter’s nickname was “Poison Ivy” – an early signal that our profession might have benefitted from its own good work.
Seriously, is there another professional group where so few out of so many can’t agree on what they do? I ran across countless other articles and posts on the topic of “what is PR,” including this blog, which adds another 31 definitions to the mix.
PR pros’ inability to practice what they preach to clients is almost as annoying as the angst-ridden titles of countless industry articles and seminars. Seen just this morning: “Making an Irrefutable Business Case for PR: Veteran Communicators Reveal How to Wow the C-Suite.” Here’s a tip: we “wow” clients when we analyze their business challenge, map out a creative and efficient campaign, then prove results. It’s not rocket science.
So, let’s stop the endless navel-gazing. If you can’t explain in simple terms – and measure – what value and benefits you or your agency brings to the table, you’re in the wrong business.
Here’s what we do. Our core business at Brandware Public Relations is to tell compelling stories that positively – and measurably – connect target audiences to a clients’ brand, products, services and people. That’s it. Whether we achieve that goal through print, broadcast, video, blogs, forums, thought leadership, analyst briefs, events, internal channels or consumer experiences – our mission always is to create memorable, actionable content.
That’s our elevator pitch – what’s yours?
Photo Courtesy of ilya