How many times have you had to explain what PR is to your friends, family and clients? Do you have a set definition or do you muddle through as they look increasingly bored and try to nod as if they understand?
As part of the push to change the perception and reputation of the PR industry, I believe that we need start with the very terminology of PR itself.
What’s in a name…
The term “Public Relations” was first coined in the early 1900s as the concepts or marketing and advertising emerged, but the industry itself was not truly a separate entity until post-war and only took on its modern format in the 1970s.
Think how much the industry and our individual roles have changed in the past few years alone, from technological developments, the evolution of the media and social media, and how the impact of the economy.
The PR of the 1990s, let alone the 1970s, is no longer reflective of what we do today, and the reputation and name of our industry carries a considerable amount of baggage.
This has caused a dilema and moved us further away from a defined identity. PR is now known as; media relations; public relations; stakeholder; business communications; reputation management; and a million more…
Of course, rebranding PR with a different name will not solve the issue and will generate a higher level of confusion for those on the outside of the industry.
I believe that we need to embark on a sustained, collaborative and transparent campaign to show what we do, how we do it, and why we are important.
These effort needs to be undertaken at a grassroots level, as well as by industry bodies. For too long we have focused on infighting and competition between ourselves – what could unite us more than reaching out to potential clients and generating business for the PR sector that we can all benefit from.
Robert Peston’s recent accusation that PR is “the devil” is a timely reminder that even high level journalists to do appreciate the benefits that the industry can offer to them as time constraints weight heavier on their time.
Please do share your thoughts and engage in the conversation online with #PRable.
If, like me, you feel passion about this, we need to make our voices heard because I truly believe that change is needed if our industry is to stay alive