Who are we?

I ask the question in my -30- segment on this week’s Inside PR (2.03). And it feels like PR people – and especially senior practitioners – ask it a lot.  You’d think we’re all existentialists or something.

But the fact is, our profession seems like it’s always searching for its raison d’etre.

It’s not as if we’re in our infancy. The Canadian Public Relations Society, for example, has been around for more than 60 years; yet we just came out with a formal definition of PR in 2008.

Let me ask you: how many times have you responded to the question, what do you do?, with: I work in PR; only to have people say, that’s a bit like advertising, right?

Well, no it really isn’t. And when you try to explain what you do, do you notice people get that smile of feigned interest as you expound on the subtleties of organizations reaching out to their publics? (Can you blame them?)

I think part of the reason people don’t get what we do is that we’ve put too much focus on tactics; the kids’ table where all the fun stuff happens.  We are superb publicists, amazing organizers, detail oriented to the max. I’ve heard folks say if you have to get something done, call a PR agency.

And sure it’s nice to be that reliable friend; the one you can count on; the one you know won’t mind riding in the backseat. Perhaps we need to step out of our comfort zone, think big picture as opposed to pretty picture; and focus on out of the box strategic thinking rather than carrying the box at an event.

It’s my hope that with social media and our profession’s understanding of communities, real relationship building and two-way communications; we can blog, socialize and share our real value honestly, openly and with a little pizzazz.

And maybe one day simply saying our profession’s name will be definition enough.

I’m interested to hear your feedback.

Note: From time to time I’ll be posting a slightly revised version of my -30- segment from Inside PR with Gini Dietrich and Joe Thornley.   In this episode, we also talk about privacy. Have a listen and let us know what you think.