Why this PRSA situation is important.

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Here is a comment by Ashlyn Brewer to PRSA’s Spin Sucks post which responded to public criticism of the PRSA’s final choices for the new definition of PR:

“When I graduated from college in 2010, I was excited to work in “public relations.” Now, only two years later, I almost exclusively use words like “strategic communications” and “reputation management” because those terms seem to communicate the strategic part of what we do better. PR does have an image problem — it DOES need to be redefined, or we risk losing the term all together.

This post makes it sound you’re giving up on the vision of finding a common ground definition that gets us excited to use the term again. Don’t! Don’t lose sight of the vision because you want to stick too closely to the process. The vision was right, the process just didn’t generate the desired results. Go back to the drawing board!”

My related comment response to PRSA (one of several):

“I think it’s very dangerous to think that this new definition only matters to members of the profession. You already know what you do – it’s the rest of us who need the clarification. I look at Ashlyn Brewer’s comment to this post, where she says she deliberately doesn’t use the term “public relations” when she talks about her own work. And she’s a Millennial, so I can bet she knows many, many people who feel the same way.

This is the future of your profession and your association. This is your future PRSA member. What happens when she’s ready to join? What happens if she googles “association for strategic communicators” instead of “association for public relations”? Your future is staring you in the face, please don’t run away from it. Evolve with it.”

Becoming a collaborative, decentralized organization is HARD. No-one expects it to be easy or to happen overnight. But when things get a little tough, as Jamie Notter would say, you have to “move towards the conflict”. Why? Because conflict prevents action. So how do you keep it from stopping you in your tracks?

You finish the conversation.

Everyone cares, or people wouldn’t feel so strongly about it all.  They wouldn’t be participating in the first place, or discussing it on blogs.  The PRSA needs to just stay in the conversation, stay with the work.  It’s not about consensus – it’s about getting to a point where the conversation is finished, where everyone can respect the outcome.  The future of this association is at stake here.

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