PR Definition

We work in PR – and soon we’ll be able to tell you exactly what that means

A while back I jokingly joined a Facebook group called, “I Work in PR and My family and Friends Have No Idea What I Do,” partly out of curiosity, but mostly because it’s true. Chances are the description will strike a chord if you work in the industry:

“They know we spend all day at an office and that we are very busy, but no one we know understands what it is we do all day. We are equally unable to explain it to them.”

But that’s all about to change, hopefully.

It’s no secret that public relations has a PR problem. Forget the tension with the media (it’s high time to declare a truce and move on…but that’s another post); I’m talking about the fact that – while a myriad of definitions are floating around – existing descriptions are neither intuitive nor able to encompass PR’s ever-evolving scope of work.

PRSA’s definition of public relations was last updated in 1982. Over the course of the past 10 years, the organization has assembled two special committees to explore modernizing the definition of public relations, but recent discussions, blog posts, tweets and mainstream articles have called for more decisive action. Public relations professionals, having grown tired of lack a de facto industry definition and unhappy with current descriptions, want to both modernize the definition and increase its value.

So late last year the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) decided to tackle this conundrum with its “Public Relations Defined” initiative, setting out to answer the question, “What is public relations?” After collaborating with partners in allied associations and calling for open submissions, PRSA unveiled its three definition possibilities this past week:

1. Public relations is the management function of researching, engaging, communicating, and collaborating with stakeholders in an ethical manner to build mutually beneficial relationships and achieve results.
2. Public relations is a strategic communication process that develops and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their key publics.
3. Public relations is the engagement between organizations and individuals to achieve mutual understanding and realize strategic goals.

We’ve got until January 23 to review, react and comment, and then the collective feedback will be aggregated and analyzed for use in a second “Definition of PR” summit. The goal of that meeting will be to produce three final definitions, on which the profession will be invited to vote, and then the final definition is slated to be announced at the end of February. For more information, annotated versions of the definitions and to leave your thoughts for consideration in the process, click here.

Do you think the definitions above are on track? If not, how would you better define PR? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments below.

Does Motivation Matter?

As an entrepreneur and business owner, one has to keep a certain level of motivation in order to keep the business moving forward. Even during the worst of times – say a recession – and the best of times, an underlying, sincere motivation must exist for long lasting success. You must also learn how to keep others motivated, even when it’s the last feeling you have personally.

Motivation has been on my mind a lot lately for both personal and professional reasons. Why do people stay or leave a company, why do some return after they’ve left, what are the motivating factors for work other than for a paycheck? What is it that drives relationship success? What is the motivation for someone to change when something isn’t going well? There are a myriad of answers that could fit – but only you know the truth behind your own motivation.

Tying into this topic, yesterday, Michael Arrington of Techcrunch disclosed that he has invested in some of the startups that he (or his staff) writes about on his world-famous blog. Arrington’s claim is that he has always provided full disclosure, but that he wanted to reiterate his stance because “the policy has changed,” he has begun actively investing again and that in the past, the accusations of conflicts of interest by TechCrunch competitors became distracting. Seems sensible – he’s being up front and disclosing his interests. Others have questioned his motivation – citing potential damage to the blog and its staff, and claiming a “clear financial gain in this policy” – but admit that “Arrington won’t find much public criticism in the Silicon Valley community because he has a thin skin and he keeps a list.”

So what is the true motivation behind Michael Arrington’s disclosure? Does it matter? How much does someone’s motivation matter to you if the outcome is right? Does a company’s motivation (getting you to spend money) to treat you well make you wary, even if your experience is positive and you willingly spend? Does an employee’s motivation to work harder, better, stronger – right around review time – matter, or are you just happy they are delivering results? Does the motivation behind a friend’s change in behavior matter to you if they are now treating you better than ever (say you caught and confronted their bad behavior and that’s why they’ve changed)?

Do you analyze motivation enough – of your employees, your partners, your customers? Understanding motivation – as much as we can – can help us to be better business owners, friends, leaders and partners. How much does motivation matter to you?