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Definition of PR Summit Notes — Analysis of Candidate Definitions

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Feb. 7, 2012



           Definition of Public Relations Summit
            Analysis of Candidate Definitions
                                          Webinar

Participating Organizations                         Participants

Canadian PR Society                                 Jean Valin, Karen Dalton
International Assoc. of Business Communicators      John Clemmons, Paige Wesley
Institute for Public Relations                      Frank Ovaitt
AMEC                                                Barry Leggetter
Global Alliance                                     Dan Tisch
National Assoc. of Govt. Communicators              Laura Kirkpatrick
Public Relations Student Society of America         Nick Lucido
Public Relations Society of America                 Gerry Corbett, Rosanna Fiske, Bill Murray,
                                                    Arthur Yann, Keith Trivitt, John Elsasser
PRSA Public Relations Defined Task Force            Dave Rickey, Sarah Siewert, Deb Silverman

Not in Attendance

Arthur W. Page Society
Chartered Institute of Public Relations
Hispanic Public Relations Association
National Black Public Relations Association
Word of Mouth Marketing Association

Summary Notes

       Change in Process
          o Because of a division among the partners over whether to include the word
            “ethics” in any definition — thus providing for an aspirational vs. practical
            definition — the partners decided to present three standard definitions for public
            vote, with the option for voters to select an alternate ethics-based version for
            each candidate definition.
                 Public will still be asked to vote on three separate definitions.
                             However, upon voting, they will be presented with a second
                             question asking them if “ethics” should be included in the definition
                             they selected and presenting them with an alternate, ethics-based
                             version of the definition they selected.
          o Messaging for this:
                 “We had divided views regarding the inclusion of the word „ethics‟ within
                     the definition. Everyone believes that PRSA members practice ethically;


                                                                                                1
however, there was a division over whether it is implicit or needs to be
              explicit.”

Values Statement
   o CPRS suggested benefit of drafting a “values statement” as a preamble to the
      candidate definitions.
            Clearly state the values of each definition as a context of each candidate
               definition.
   o Need is for each participating organization to provide its own contextual values
      statement/preamble in order to make each candidate definition relevant to their
      internal and external audiences.
            Suggestion of drafting a preamble to each candidate definition.
   o IPR: “We all want a definition of public relations that anyone can understand what
      it is that we do.”
            If you have a statement of values and your definition doesn‟t really make
               sense before you have a chance to read that statement of values, is it
               really worth having such a value statement?
            Focus primarily on the definition and let the values statement come
               naturally from the process.
            Need for both (candidate definitions and values statement) but candidate
               definitions need to stand on their own.
   o PRSA: A “values statement” may confuse the process more than help provide
      the profession with a clear sense of three candidate definitions.
            Possibly develop a Phase Two: A values statement that explains what PR
               stands for vs. a definition, which informs people of what it is that we do
   o Global Alliance: Might too much of an exercise to achieve during this Summit but
      would be smart for PRSA to consider producing.
   o Group consensus:
            PRSA will develop a values statement for the final definition based off
               what principles its members value, and will encourage other organizations
               to do so as well.

Deliberation of Candidate Definitions
   o Consensus was that the three proposed definitions provide very distinct and
       legitimate options for a modern definition of public relations.
   o Question regarding whether people will vote for the first candidate definition
       because the word “ethics” is included.

   o   Definition No. 1
           Ethics: If you have to state it, no one will believe it.
                        Include ethics in the values statement but don‟t include it in the
                        actual definition.
                        IABC: There is value to includeing“ethics” in any definition
                        because it provides people with an understanding of what PR pros
                        aspire to do through their work.
           Use “collaborating” versus “engaging” (the latter is more of a “buzz word”
               and jargon, while the former is more widely understood by the public.
           “Achieve results” is redundant (if PR pros don‟t “achieve results” then they
               will not remain a “management function”).


                                                                                         2
   “Stakeholders”: Simpler than “constituencies” but not as simple as
               “publics.”
                       For No. 1: Keep “stakeholders” in to make it distinct from other
                       candidate definitions.
                       “Publics” is more easily understood by the layperson.
              Final version:
                       Normal version:
                           o “Public relations is the management function of
                               researching, communicating and collaborating with publics
                               to build mutually beneficial relationships.”
                       “Ethics” version:
                           o “Public relations is the management function of ethically
                               researching, communicating and collaborating with publics
                               to build mutually beneficial relationships.”

   o   Definition No. 2
           Removed word “key” because of its superfluous and jargon-y nature
           “Process”: Denotes PR‟s value as having a strategic beginning, middle
               and end.
                       Also helps to distinguish between three candidate definitions.
                       Helps people understand that PR is a process, done over time,
                       and is not solely comprised of media relations and publicity.
                       Sense of trying to convey the idea of “process” and “time” as it
                       relates to PR‟s role and value.
           Change from “develops and maintains” mutually beneficial relationships
               to “builds mutually beneficial relationships.”
   o   Final version:
           Normal version:
                       “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds
                       mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their
                       publics.”
           “Ethics” version:
                       “Public relations is a strategic, ethical communication process that
                       builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and
                       their publics.”

Definition No. 3
   o The notion of “engagement” as we try to modernize the definition of public
        relations, and understanding that much of our work is done via social media, and
        direct engagement with publics.
             Engagement is a process; it‟s one tool that we use but doesn‟t
                encompass the totality of our work.
   o “Strategic” vs. “shared” goals:
             An organization‟s goals via a PR function are not always the same as the
                goals of its publics and customers.
             “Strategic” is more comprehensive
                       Moved “strategic” in front of “process” to imply public relations‟
                       strategic management function.



                                                                                          3
    Should “organizations” and “individuals” be included or is there a better
                       way of phrasing that?
                              Consensus that “publics” is a better term than “individuals” in
                              order to make definition more clear to layperson.
           o   Final version:
                   Normal version:
                              “Public relations is the strategic process of engagement between
                              organizations and publics to achieve mutual understanding and
                              realize goals.”
                   “Ethics” version:
                              “Public relations is the strategic, ethical process of engagement
                              between organizations and publics to achieve mutual
                              understanding and realize goals.”

Next Steps
      PRSA will build an online public voting apparatus based on the final version of each
      candidate definition.
      PRSA will draft external and internal communications to announce final candidate
      definitions and opening of public vote.
          o Public vote will take place on PRDefined website (http://prdefinition.prsa.org/)
               from Feb. 13-26.
          o PRSA asks that all initiative partners help spread word about the public vote to
               their members and constituencies.
      Partners will be informed of which candidate definition is selected by the public as the
      final definition prior to any public announcement.
      Final definition will be announced week of Feb. 27.




                                                                                                   4
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Definition of PR Summit Notes — Analysis of Candidate Definitions

  • 1. Feb. 7, 2012 Definition of Public Relations Summit Analysis of Candidate Definitions Webinar Participating Organizations Participants Canadian PR Society Jean Valin, Karen Dalton International Assoc. of Business Communicators John Clemmons, Paige Wesley Institute for Public Relations Frank Ovaitt AMEC Barry Leggetter Global Alliance Dan Tisch National Assoc. of Govt. Communicators Laura Kirkpatrick Public Relations Student Society of America Nick Lucido Public Relations Society of America Gerry Corbett, Rosanna Fiske, Bill Murray, Arthur Yann, Keith Trivitt, John Elsasser PRSA Public Relations Defined Task Force Dave Rickey, Sarah Siewert, Deb Silverman Not in Attendance Arthur W. Page Society Chartered Institute of Public Relations Hispanic Public Relations Association National Black Public Relations Association Word of Mouth Marketing Association Summary Notes Change in Process o Because of a division among the partners over whether to include the word “ethics” in any definition — thus providing for an aspirational vs. practical definition — the partners decided to present three standard definitions for public vote, with the option for voters to select an alternate ethics-based version for each candidate definition.  Public will still be asked to vote on three separate definitions. However, upon voting, they will be presented with a second question asking them if “ethics” should be included in the definition they selected and presenting them with an alternate, ethics-based version of the definition they selected. o Messaging for this:  “We had divided views regarding the inclusion of the word „ethics‟ within the definition. Everyone believes that PRSA members practice ethically; 1
  • 2. however, there was a division over whether it is implicit or needs to be explicit.” Values Statement o CPRS suggested benefit of drafting a “values statement” as a preamble to the candidate definitions.  Clearly state the values of each definition as a context of each candidate definition. o Need is for each participating organization to provide its own contextual values statement/preamble in order to make each candidate definition relevant to their internal and external audiences.  Suggestion of drafting a preamble to each candidate definition. o IPR: “We all want a definition of public relations that anyone can understand what it is that we do.”  If you have a statement of values and your definition doesn‟t really make sense before you have a chance to read that statement of values, is it really worth having such a value statement?  Focus primarily on the definition and let the values statement come naturally from the process.  Need for both (candidate definitions and values statement) but candidate definitions need to stand on their own. o PRSA: A “values statement” may confuse the process more than help provide the profession with a clear sense of three candidate definitions.  Possibly develop a Phase Two: A values statement that explains what PR stands for vs. a definition, which informs people of what it is that we do o Global Alliance: Might too much of an exercise to achieve during this Summit but would be smart for PRSA to consider producing. o Group consensus:  PRSA will develop a values statement for the final definition based off what principles its members value, and will encourage other organizations to do so as well. Deliberation of Candidate Definitions o Consensus was that the three proposed definitions provide very distinct and legitimate options for a modern definition of public relations. o Question regarding whether people will vote for the first candidate definition because the word “ethics” is included. o Definition No. 1  Ethics: If you have to state it, no one will believe it. Include ethics in the values statement but don‟t include it in the actual definition. IABC: There is value to includeing“ethics” in any definition because it provides people with an understanding of what PR pros aspire to do through their work.  Use “collaborating” versus “engaging” (the latter is more of a “buzz word” and jargon, while the former is more widely understood by the public.  “Achieve results” is redundant (if PR pros don‟t “achieve results” then they will not remain a “management function”). 2
  • 3. “Stakeholders”: Simpler than “constituencies” but not as simple as “publics.” For No. 1: Keep “stakeholders” in to make it distinct from other candidate definitions. “Publics” is more easily understood by the layperson.  Final version: Normal version: o “Public relations is the management function of researching, communicating and collaborating with publics to build mutually beneficial relationships.” “Ethics” version: o “Public relations is the management function of ethically researching, communicating and collaborating with publics to build mutually beneficial relationships.” o Definition No. 2  Removed word “key” because of its superfluous and jargon-y nature  “Process”: Denotes PR‟s value as having a strategic beginning, middle and end. Also helps to distinguish between three candidate definitions. Helps people understand that PR is a process, done over time, and is not solely comprised of media relations and publicity. Sense of trying to convey the idea of “process” and “time” as it relates to PR‟s role and value.  Change from “develops and maintains” mutually beneficial relationships to “builds mutually beneficial relationships.” o Final version:  Normal version: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”  “Ethics” version: “Public relations is a strategic, ethical communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Definition No. 3 o The notion of “engagement” as we try to modernize the definition of public relations, and understanding that much of our work is done via social media, and direct engagement with publics.  Engagement is a process; it‟s one tool that we use but doesn‟t encompass the totality of our work. o “Strategic” vs. “shared” goals:  An organization‟s goals via a PR function are not always the same as the goals of its publics and customers.  “Strategic” is more comprehensive Moved “strategic” in front of “process” to imply public relations‟ strategic management function. 3
  • 4. Should “organizations” and “individuals” be included or is there a better way of phrasing that? Consensus that “publics” is a better term than “individuals” in order to make definition more clear to layperson. o Final version:  Normal version: “Public relations is the strategic process of engagement between organizations and publics to achieve mutual understanding and realize goals.”  “Ethics” version: “Public relations is the strategic, ethical process of engagement between organizations and publics to achieve mutual understanding and realize goals.” Next Steps PRSA will build an online public voting apparatus based on the final version of each candidate definition. PRSA will draft external and internal communications to announce final candidate definitions and opening of public vote. o Public vote will take place on PRDefined website (http://prdefinition.prsa.org/) from Feb. 13-26. o PRSA asks that all initiative partners help spread word about the public vote to their members and constituencies. Partners will be informed of which candidate definition is selected by the public as the final definition prior to any public announcement. Final definition will be announced week of Feb. 27. 4