Definition of PR? Don’t Fence Me In

by PR Coach on October 22, 2013

New definition of PR
What is PR today? Depending on who you talk to, it’s either stuck in the prehistoric era of the dinosaurs or trapped in the social media Twilight Zone.

Smart PR pros recognize a foundation of traditional PR integrated with a new social media toolbox, content marketing and new digital channels is the recipe for success.

Will “Old PR” go extinct?

Brian Kilgore doesn’t think so though, if you read his recent The Huffington Post article Don’t Insult PR People by Calling Them Marketers

In his post, he says:

“The media relations and publicity part of Public Relations is the management function that builds, maintains, restores and evolves reputations of individuals and organizations using messages that have an editorial and public interest sensibility, often delivered, seemingly for free, through ‘the media’.”

When most people think of Marketing, it is the “P for Promotion” part of the traditional Fours Ps of Marketing, primarily advertising and sales promotion. The other three Ps are Product, Place and Price.

Advertising messages are published exactly as created.

Marketers buy complete control of their message.”

Not your parents’ Public Relations profession any more

The old notions of PR and marketing Kilgore describes are far from today’s reality!

I think worrying about definitions today is futile.

PR people must move on and recognize their role today includes marketing and social media as well as traditional strategic PR, crisis management and employee communications and more. Yes, sometimes it includes event management, press releases and media pitching too.

The infographic with this post points out the new PR reality.

As I’ve said elsewhere, if your PR toolkit doesn’t include marketing and social media, then you may be of limited value to many organizations. The true PR pro is open to new ideas and adopts and adapts to new disciplines and technology fluidly.

Many of tomorrow’s PR pros will never write a speech or press release, pitch a story or organize a cocktail party or special event. But they will speak with and engage audiences directly in social media channels using tools that were not available even two years ago.

Results count in public relationsSo Mr Kilgore, riddle me this: Who is responsible for social marketing, storytelling, content marketing, brand journalism, blogging, online communities and future social media channels? It’s ridiculous to say that’s not public relations too.

Public relations today is just not where PR used to be.

To illustrate, here are just a few of the more fluffed up PR job titles shared by David Henderson:

  • Edelman: Executive Vice President/Global Strategy and Insights
  • Kodak: Chief Listening Officer
  • BBC: Vision Controller of Multiplatform and Portfolio.

Other self-aggrandizing titles included: Change Catalyst, Social Media Thought Leader, Chief Imagination Officer, Ideation Director, Head of the Hive for Cranium and Chief People Pleaser.

Of course, you can always use the Bullshit Job Title Generator if you really want to impress somebody. It came up with Corporate Paradigm Advisor which is somehow weirdly appropriate for PR.

I’m not saying these “PR” titles are accurate or useful but they do reflect change and the need for an open mind.

I don’t know about you, but my clients expect me to know about and manage these critical new communications channels, dare I say new social media/PR functions, for them.

I’ll leave worrying about definitions for the dinosaurs and concentrate on delivering results.

What do you think? Do the old definitions of PR accurately describe your PR job? Does marketing give you a migraine? I welcome your thoughts in the comments below.

If you’d like a copy of the infographic accompanying this post, you can download or share it in PDF or JPG format.

Author: Jeff Domansky

Infographic: created by Jeff Domansky with visuals from Wikipedia, Flickr.