What does ‘public relations’ mean to you?

What does ‘public relations’ mean to you?

Of 21 top public relations agencies listed in the Tampa Bay Business Journal 2010 Book of Lists, only three have opted to use “Public Relations” or “PR” in their company name. Those words simply conjure bad thoughts for some people – a bit of that is deserved, much of it isn’t.

For one, anybody can slap a ‘PR’ on their business card – there are a fair share of slick-talkers, spinmeisters, yes-men, and schmoozers claiming a share of the industry banner.

Other misperceptions are gleaned from film and TV – at best portraying a very narrow segment of the business, and often misrepresenting it entirely (internal meetings on strategies and objectives aren’t usually compelling entertainment).

A few negative perceptions might be earned – any profession has bad apples. Some agency bull artist pulls out all the stops for a fancy new business pitch, but then half-baked strategies are passed along to less-experienced staff. Or a flurry of substance-less press releases are blasted to carelessly compiled lists of media and constituents. The activity reports might look impressive, but needles aren’t moving.

Despite and because of these things, we ultimately decided that ‘Public Relations’ will be front-and-center in our branding. We’re going to embrace opportunities to address negative perceptions head-on, and help spread the word that public relations is an important and credible profession.

Good public relations not only generates measurable bottom-line value for clients – it benefits all parties because it guides organizations to be helpful, to be honest, and to offer useful information to people. Good PR helps organizations listen and respond, identifying key areas and addressing them. Good PR fosters communication that is clear, candid, and productive – to help move organizations forward, in line with the needs and wants of society.

Society is changing rapidly, and so is our industry – we’ve got new and emerging ways of communicating, a very different news media landscape, plus reset economic standards. As the industry reinvents itself, we hope it collects more positive connotations – we’ll be here doing our small part to help.

This blog is a forum to discuss issues and trends impacting public relations, along with sharing client and agency news and other things we or you may find interesting…