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February 8, 2012
Where Lies PR's Soul?
 
Maybe it's just us, but we're feeling a little antsy about the Public Relations Society of America's (PRSA) efforts to identify public relations flat out with business goals. We've always viewed PR as having a mediating role, helping business and its publics influence each other for mutual progress. That doesn't necessarily square with "helps companies and organizations achieve a variety of business goals," one of PR's aims according to a PRSA staff post on "Business Knowledge Key To Enhancing PR Professionals' Value."

Neither are we thrilled to see PRSA pushing the aim of "making the APR a requirement for hire," and "standardizing public relations titles (much like engineering and architectural firms do.)" PR needs to be able to recruit people with strong communications skills, whether they're APRs or not, encouraging them to take APR training once they're settled in — to whatever titles doesn't matter that much. Listening is the key discipline, it seems to us, not promoting. That's how PR differs from marketing and the legal group. 

Business needs to be schooled in the value of PR as a relational skill, not a promotional one. Accommodation, not domination, is among the worthiest of business goals. 

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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