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Do we have a language problem in PR?


When you think of PR, what’s the first thing that comes to mind?

Admit it, you tend to think of media relations, right?

As I talk to business folks, I still get the feeling that a lot of people think PR is really just media relations.

Gee, I thought PR meant influencing and persuading attitudes, perceptions and behaviors of key stakeholders. More accurately, according to Wikipedia, PR is the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics. In that respect, media relations is just one way we do that. Hasn’t it always been that way?

PR is much, much more than just media relations. It includes a number of other disciplines that we all practice on  a daily basis to help our clients achieve their business objectives. Community relations. Social media. Internal communications. Executive communications. Investor relations. And marketing communications, to name a few. 

I think what we really have is a language problem.

For the bulk of the non-PR population, PR=media relations. But we know it to mean and represent so much more.

The key here is that this is affecting our reputation with executives. If management only sees us as media relations experts, it doesn’t get us the credibility we need to get a seat at the big table. And it certainly doesn’t allow us to demonstrate our many skills and talents for influencing and persuading the attitudes and behaviors of key audiences (and ultimately affecting purchasing decisions, for example). In the end, it usually means we’re left out of key management discussions and decisions and our counsel is not sought–a “lose-lose” situation for both management and PR professionals. 
So, given that, how do we start redefining PR for management? If you had 2 minutes to state your case, what would you say?



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