Fresh eyes

Quality should be our PRiority

qaulity should be our PRiority
Simon Turner Freshfield Managing Director

Written by Simon Turner,
Chief Executive & Group Client Director at Freshfield

The PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) recently unveiled its new definition of PR: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics.”

This definition was reached after debate and a public vote, in which 1,447 people took part.

In the same week, PR Week analysed the recruitment policies and attitudes to qualifications of PR agencies. It debated the need for PR degrees for a career in PR.

I can sometimes forget that I once studied and gained a PR degree, spending several years trying to define PR in my head. Seems a world away. Even now, I sometimes struggle to articulate to family and friends what PR is. My old man (in a Lancashire accent) often describes me as ‘someone who knows a good article when he sees one’.

So it was interesting to read the PRSA’s new definition, which should serve as a reminder to everyone that PR is a specialist discipline – that requires quality knowledge, skills and understanding to execute well.

PR is always evolving especially in recent years with the added disciplines described variously as online, digital PR, integrated comms and social media. It’s probably fair to say that PR can mean different things to different people. However, no matter what aspect of communications you are in, the PRSA definition is relevant.

I’ve worked with some great journalists, marketers, management graduates and entrepreneurs in PR. None of them have PR degrees but what they have is a strong, fundamental understanding of what PR is all about. Clients are the same. Those who understand it – and its relevance to them – get more from their PR spend. Those who don’t will never value it.

You don’t need to have a degree in PR to be a great PR practitioner. But you most certainly need to understand what PR is, and what it can deliver in today’s modern world of diverse communications.

With too many PR practitioners claiming to be specialists when in fact all they do is write press releases, the industry as a whole must continue its fight to position PR as a deeper, strategic discipline.

For anyone involved in PR, it‘s worth having a look and think about the PRSA’s new definition. I am sure it will promote much debate in the UK.

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