Communication is the heart of all human endeavour.

Talk about your ‘shoemaker’s children,’ PR is tongue-tied trying to explain itself

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm

By Geoffrey Rowan

TORONTO, FEB. 17, 2012

Dear Father-of-PR Edward Bernays,

Please save us from ourselves.

In a smart blog post on the almost-always-helpful Ragan’s PR Daily  (http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/10869.aspx#) Steve Crescenzo wrote about the PRSA’s bulemic attempt to define PR. (Bulemic because the PRSA PR Definition Task Force took in a huge amount of material, which it has used to produce a bilious product.) Steve is a popular speaker, seminar leader and consultant who blogs at Corporate Hallucinations.com.)

The PRSA output is head-explodingly bad communication, exceeded only by the Canadian Public Relations Society in its attempt to violate every precept of human communication with this:

“Public relations is the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, through the use of communication, to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals and serve the public interest.”
Agree with Paul Nz that no one but a “task force” that believes it is doing life-defining work would use the word “publics.”

The PRSA is asking its members to choose from these offerings:

Public relations is the management function of researching, communicating and collaborating with publics to build mutually beneficial relationships.

Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.

Public relations is the strategic process of engagement between organizations and publics to achieve mutual understanding and realize goals.

How about:
“PR is communication with purpose.”
Or “PR is communication to achieve something.”

The problem with saying something in five or six plain words instead of 20-35 self-important ones is that it doesn’t sufficiently mystify what we do. It doesn’t create a barrier to entry. If PR is just “communication to achieve something,” well, doesn’t everybody do that? Yes, everybody does that. And a lot of people participate in sports and the arts but they don’t do so at a professional level. Besides being dreadful communication, the association definitions reek of insecurity and desperation. (“Really, we do something special, we really do, and you don’t know how to do it.”)
Let’s differentiate ourselves by excelling in the art and science of communicating to achieve results, rather than by defining our craft with an arcane, impenetrable, self-aggrandizing, jargon-filled, uninspiring and meaningless bit of tripe that will never be used anywhere anyway.   Too much?

 

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