13 February 2012 - 12:07pm | posted by | 3 comments

CIPR CEO Wilson responds to PRSA search for new definition for PR

CIPR CEO Wilson responds to PRSA search for new definition for PRCIPR CEO Wilson responds to PRSA search for new definition for PR

Following the Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) bid to redefine public relations and better explain what the discipline means today, Jane Wilson, CEO of the CIPR has issued a response to the controversial findings.

The ‘Public Relations Defined’ campaign was implemented in order to open up a dialogue and create what Gerard F. Corbett, chair of the PRSA described as ‘a dictionary definition’ of what PR meant.

Wilson has said that while the CIPR supported the initiative, they did not plan on adopting its findings.

“The PRSA has recently embarked upon an initiative to offer a renewed definition of public relations, using crowd sourcing methods to reach a series of alternative proposals, based on responses from the profession itself,” commented Wilson. “We supported ‘#PRdefined’ and were pleased to be able to help the PRSA in this quest. However, as we made clear, this did not mean we would be automatically replacing the CIPR’s definition of public relations. As we can see from the sometimes fierce debate on the PRSA blog, in which it sometimes seems that there are as many different ideas about the nature of public relations as there are public relations professionals, this is not a debate that will end when a new definition comes forward. But, as Gerald Corbett says, this initiative has prompted a discussion within the profession unlike any that has taken place in recent memory.”

The CIPR holds its own definition of PR on its website, where it describes it as a “discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”

Wilson continued to highlight research undertaken by the CIPR itself; “Our own research into what a secure future for public relations will look like into the next decade and beyond highlighted the need for better definitions of the discipline and what it is to achieve. Of 3,000 people who work in public relations roughly half disagreed with the statement ‘my family understands what I do for a living.’ You could say that this doesn’t matter as the professional understands how building relationships with key audiences and developing mutual understanding is a means to managing reputation and meeting strategic objectives. But one of the things that characterises this profession is the wealth and variety of the roles we undertake which creates a vast range of different understandings about the nature of public relations. One size may never fit all.”


14 Feb 2012 - 05:15
prcom96102's picture

The search for PR when will it end???????

Bensie Dorien



15 Feb 2012 - 14:26
arthu97335's picture

It's a bit absurd to expect that CIPR, or any professional organization cooperating with PRSA on this initiative, would routinely adopt the resulting definition as its own. We've known this to be the case from the beginning.

While broad consensus would be lovely, the reality is that cultural and practical differences, as well as pride of ownership, make broad agreement difficult. We remain thankful for CIPR's support, as Ms. Wilson confirms in this PRSA blog post (http://bit.ly/t4PkU2).

Arthur Yann VP/PR PRSA

18 Feb 2012 - 14:08
Megma18578's picture

Ms. Wilson's comments are spot on, and echo almost to the word opinions I expressed on PRSA's and other US-based blogs discussing/debating this matter. Having had the benefit of gaining experience practicing PR in three different countries over the last 22-years, I share the opinion that PR is an umbrella term that no "one size fits all" definition could ever truly hope to adequately (or accurately) encompass. I'm also of the opinion that the current CIPR definition of PR is superior to any of the three possibilities PRSA has presented. In fact, I'm of the opinion that PRSA could learn much from its UK counterpart as regards being an organisation that recognises and respects the interests and concerns of the broad spectrum of individuals engaged in the practice of public relations today.

Meg McAllister McAllister PR


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