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#PRDefined: Why You Should Care (and Vote)
By: Kimberly Shrack
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There comes a point in every PR pro's life when they have to answer that most difficult of questions: “What is it exactly that you do?” To many, myself included, this question ranks up there with “What is the meaning of life?” in terms of questions you really don’t want to be asked. Not only is it impossible to answer concisely, but everyone has a different definition. The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) hopes to quell some of the anxiety that comes with that loaded question with the Public Relations Defined campaign — and they almost have a winner.
 
For those unfamiliar, PRSA’s PR Defined initiative began in December as a way to modernize the definition of public relations. But it’s not just about modernizing — it’s also about helping us move beyond the flack image. After the initial crowd-sourcing phase and public comment period, PRSA announced the three frontrunners:
  • 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.
Here’s where you come in: you gotta vote. Seriously. You can vote for your preferred definition on the PR Defined website through February 26, and the winner will be announced on February 27.
 
So here comes the million-dollar question: why should I care? Well, if you’re PR pro, why wouldn’t you? No one knows better than we do the bad rap that is often associated with our profession. We also know this reputation is undeserved, caused by a few unethical apples and perpetuated by glossy media stereotypes. And honestly, it probably doesn’t help that there is no “de facto” definition of PR. If we can’t really explain it, how can we expect anyone else to truly understand its value?
 
So who do we want to define what we do? Our detractors? Samantha Jones? A few bad eggs? Why not us? Yes, this is a small step — the winner will replace PRSA’s current definition, but will not necessarily be applied to other organizations. But the size of a step shouldn’t determine whether or not we take it. No, this is bigger than that. Because when it comes down to it, a definition is what the campaign will produce, but not what it’s about. It’s about taking our reputation into our own hands and reclaiming the profession we love — and, in my opinion, that’s worth voting for.


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About the Author
Kimberly Shrack is a PR pro based in Philadelphia, specializing in writing and content development. She has worked in communication for a variety of industries including technology, travel, art, and healthcare. Follow her on Twitter at @kjshrack.
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