Thursday, December 24, 2009

Communicating PR

Why is it that the industry burdened with communicating messages to the public on behalf of companies/organizations, struggles so much with communicating its own importance? That sentence, is exactly why we (PR) have such a time communicating our indispensability. It's too wordy. We talk too much. We use euphemisms, analogies, metaphors etc. to tell others what we (well some of us) spend hours on end actually doing. What is wrong with shooting straight from the hip? Instead of practicing 30-second commercials to use when networking, I think PR students should practice explaining what PR is in 15 (half the time) seconds or less. Now the goal would not be to talk fast. Any auctioneer can do that. The point of this exercise would be to accurately convey what PR is and why it is necessary, with crystal clarity to the average person.

So here I go. Time me.

PR gives the message of an organization to those who care to hear it, and sometimes to those who don't. And if they wish to be successful, PR professionals get those who care heard by the organization and those who don't care, to care.

I'm going to memorize that and when anyone asks me what PR is, that's going to be my answer. What's yours?

[update] I think it's really disheartening, for me as a student anyway, that we can't decide on an acceptable explanation/definition for PR. I mean really, some pros have been practicing for 10, 20, 30 or 40+ years and yet we still have trouble/issues/problems etc. communicating our job. We know our job. We go into work eery single day knowing exactly what we have to do. And we do it, mostly, well. So why is it so hard to explain it? Why dumb it down? What's so wrong with a technical definition, like "management function of communication blah blah blah?" I mean, engineers have a technical definition. Doctors sure as heck do. Is not our contribution just as important? Just as valuable to a company's success? I have a recent grad friend who is considering leaving (well, branching off really) the industry simply because of the negative connotations associated with being in "PR." Our inability to communicate (which we're supposed to do best) is hindering our ability to keep talent and grow as an industry. This may seem like harsh criticism but really it's frustrating. And I don't know, maybe my generation of peers will be the ones to solve this dilemma but really, I doubt it. By the time we're in a position to enact any real change, my guess is we'll all be so jaded from our experience with our predecessors that we'll concede the point and just go about our work everyday. Man that's bleak. 

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