Where for many ‘PR’ stands for press releases and little else, I am a big fan of public relations - a much-misunderstood concept, and much-maligned profession. I’d like to propose an evolution of the acronym.
Today’s business reality is complete transparency. Everything a brand or company does is in the public domain, courtesy of the internet, just as there is no divide between ‘personal’ and ‘professional’ for individuals in the realm of social media.
If that makes you nervous, the solution is simple. If you know who you are and what your beliefs and values are, if you only ever behave and communicate in a way that is true to you, there’s no need to worry about where anyone comes across you or what you’re found doing, because you’re never saying or doing anything to be embarrassed or ashamed of.
The first World Assembly of Public Relations Associations, held in Mexico City in 1978, defined PR as: “the art and social science of analysing trends, predicting their consequences, counselling organisational leaders, and implementing planned programmes of action, which will serve both the organisation and the public interest.”
I believe some organisations have lost sight of that last bit. All around us is evidence the old top-down model of making things happen has broken down.
There is a new bottom-up model emerging of collaborative people power and collective action. As the press release gives way to the social media release, I believe ‘Public Relations’ should become ‘People Relations’, reflecting PR as the skill of creating and managing human connections across corporate boundaries, for mutual understanding and benefit.
This article was originally published in the October 2010 issue of Campaign Asia-Pacific.