Definition of PR Summit Notes (Sept. 30, 2011 Meeting)


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Definition of PR Summit Notes (Sept. 30, 2011 Meeting)

  1. 1. Sept.30, 2011 Definition of Public Relations Summit PRSA Headquarters New York, NYParticipating Organizations ParticipantsAMEC David RocklandArthur W. Page Society Julia HoodCanadian PR Society Dan TischGlobal Alliance Dan TischHispanic PR Association David HenryInstitute for Public Relations Frank OvaittInternational Assoc. of Business Communicators George McGrathNational Assoc. of Govt. Communicators Laura KirkpatrickNational Black PR Society Deborah HymanPublic Relations Society of America Rosanna Fiske, Bill Murray, Arthur Yann, John Elsasser, Keith Trivitt 1
  2. 2. Public Relations Student Society of America Nick LucidoPRSA Public Relations Defined Task Force Dave Rickey, Deb Silverman, Sarah SiewertWord of Mouth Marketing Association Adam LavelleSummary NotesThe participants engaged in a very animated, energetic and diverse discussion about how toaccurately define the Public Relations profession. There was consensus, however, that a betterdefinition was not only advantageous to the profession, but necessary.One participant stressed the need to include non-practitioners in our method, particularly seniorexecutives — CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, etc. — in organizations. That way we can create a moreuniversal definition.Another participant wanted to be certain we were not abandoning the words “public relations” inour re-defining effort.The following question was posed: Are the words themselves really the problem or just the lackof understanding them?There was a robust conversation about the specific phrase “mutually beneficial,” which is foundin most global definitions of PR, including PRSA’s 1982 definition. Some participants thoughtthe phrase was old fashioned and tired. Others felt the words still convey an important elementof what practitioners work hard to achieve.There was an agreement that past definitions were more about goals than reality of the practice. 2
  3. 3. WOMMA stressed that word-of-mouth happens naturally. This is different from many otheraspects of PR. It moves the discussion from personal interaction to technical interaction.What is PR to WOMMA? Primarily media relations; exposes the difference between the thingswe would say (one-way) v.s the way we should dialogue (two-way).One participant offered a guiding principle for defining process: the statement of the functionsmust acknowledge relationships with various audiences. Need to define those audiences.In reviewing of other organizational definitions, there are consistent elements: Function What How WhyIn our effort, we need to: • Explain how we drive business success. • Talk about protecting/promoting the brand. Definition should include a brand statement as part of the effort. How does it hit the bottom line? Reputation can be nebulous.One participant recommended the following elements of existing definitions should be kept: • Mutually beneficial or advocacy element • Reputation • Two-way communication • Long-term relationship • Planning 3
  4. 4. • Management functionAnother participant disagreed with retaining management function in definition, saying we allwant PR to be a management function but that’s aspirational, not reality. Suggested stepped-upefforts to advance PR outside of PR.One participant urged inclusion of the term “research-based management function.”Page Society is in midst of efforts to redefine corporate communication function, keeping inmind a pertinent quote from Abe Lincoln: “Character is the tree; reputation is the shadow.”Question raised about meaning of public affairs? Where does that fit in the definition asgovernment workers cannot use public relations — must be affairs or information.Led to group consensus that we will never get to a definition that applies to all communication/practivities. Is there a shared hierarchy/belief of how different functions work together?The group agreed that we need to stake a claim with “relationships:” • We are the experts at making relationships happen • Subset of worth of mouth -- the art of recommending • Expose the intent (this is the tough part) • “Relationship” is the secret sauce for what we do.A broad umbrella approach is necessary.Using Wikipedia entries as a guide, suggestion was made to develop a “simple”definition followed by explanatory bullets. 4
  5. 5. The initial sentence must deal with business purpose. Use “communicate” as the verb.Message must be unfiltered.Wikipedia definition of “Advertising” — a form of communication used to persuade anaudience (viewers, readers or listeners) to take some action withTests of a definition: • Definition: Enables people to understand • Differentiation: what makes it special • Demonstration: what value is being provided • Aspiration: for what purpose?Example:PR (educates/ interacts/ informs) (people/audiences/constituents) for the(benefit/success) of organization value…..(to what end.)Defining “To what end” is going to be the challenge 5
  6. 6. Sample sentence structure:Profession (does what) with/for (who) to (do what) for (what purpose.)Just a starting point:Public Relations (shares information/informs/interacts) with (key stakeholders/audiences/publics) to (shape public opinion/something better) to (achieve an organization’s objectives/provide value to an organization.)ConclusionThese word choices will provide the basis for a global crowd-sourcing exercise opening October15. Participants can provide input for two weeks. After that, the Task Force will craft threedistinct definitions that will be accessible for voting by the profession at large. Global 6
  7. 7. participants can vote for (not edit) any of the three. The selection with the most votes will beannounced Dec. 1. 7