On occasion I read O’Dwyers, a public relations trade magazine with regular features and listings of specialty public relations and firms. The November 2010 technology issue provided interesting blog fodder about the future of public relations.
Jack O’Dwyer, editor-in-chief, reported on comings and goings at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Assembly Oct. 16, 2010 during which delegates debated the future of public relations in 2015. His editorial is disjointed and not easily understood unless one had attended the assembly, apparently (this, of course, is my opinion after reading his column).
To get to the crux of the matter, various issues were addressed during the assembly, which I’ll recap here for the sake of our own discussion:
It seems PRSA itself is divided about the profession and voted in favor of keeping those professionals without the accredited public relations (APR) designation off the board. The vote, 173 against/104 in favor, was the first in 30 years.
- I elected not to go after APR, yet there are many who have. It requires investment of time, professional dues, volunteerism, and finances – many things a budding professional in the agency world cannot afford. Instead, I became president of the Publicity Club of Chicago and sat on its board for more than six years. I gave my time willingly to publish the annual media directory (countless hours) and innovated the Let’s Do Lunch Live Auction where we invited media to auction themselves to the highest bidder for lunch (was an excellent and fun fund-raiser for the club).
- No one I knew back in the day willingly shared the APR designation with their name unless they were trying to keep up with the Joneses ala physicians or nurses (notorious for adding every credential to a signature).
- How does this vote affect the future of public relations? It doesn’t. Those folks running PRSA inclined to keep only APRs on their board will not have the fortune and privilege of knowing professionals the likes of me and my peers. (Feels much like the “men-only” country clubs, doesn’t it?)
Mr. O’Dwyer shares copy from several slides in his editorial; however, there is no attribution. I have no idea who said:
- “The concept of news and its corresponding news value…is being diluted if not dissolved.”
- “New media is creating healthy skepticism about the truthfulness of media.”
- “The de-professionalism of traditional media and arguably, PR.”
- “PR people must embrace integrated marketing communications to reach highly distracted publics in a competitive communications environment.”
Hmm, not sure why that section was called “the press;” should’ve been called “the lament.”
In particular, I’m agog in re “practitioners must embrace integrated marketing communications.” Really? What PR person doesn’t already know they need to work all sides of the aisle and embrace our sisters in marketing, advertising, digital, new media, and anyone else vying for the illusive marketing dollar?
No longer is public relations pure. (That’s where I launched my career — as a purist, conducting media relations daily and becoming a pitch pro selling news to media. It was how I defined my career, but no longer.) Public relations professionals who elect to remain pure and execute traditional media relations, special events, thought leadership, and influencer relations without integrating practices of marketing, new media, and advertising cannot survive.
There are a few more choice remarks in the column referenced here, and I’m going to save them for my next post. Meanwhile, what thoughts might you have to add to mine?