The big question: What is PR?
In May 2008, Catherine Arrow produced a useful edited publication: What is PR? which brought together a range of posts from PR Conversation touching on the ”big question” that seems to be of eternal interest to practitioners, academics and of course, students.
Toni Muzi Falconi commenting on two recent events recommends re-reading this document. He writes:
The Bled Symposium this year was not up to the excellent standards that I am accustomed to expect from its organizers. But this may also be due to the fact that I am biased.
Dejan Vercic had happily accepted Ronel Rensburg’s last minute suggestion to stage a post-Stockholm session with some of the world’s leading scholars to analyse the potential implications the Accords brief could, would, should have on education and professional training programs. An excellent idea, I thought and with Anne Gregory and Ronel, we opened the discussion.
The first question which came up was
‘but what is pr?’
and the second
‘why do we insist in calling whatever we think it is PR’?
You will surely imagine that, for the next half hour, we hardly ever mentioned the Accords or their implications on education…..as the discussion went back some twenty years, before the European Body of Knowledge and the Bled Manifesto, contributions which were so instrumental in elevating the quality of our profession worldwide.
We participated to a sort of cultural ‘regression’, most probably due to the fact that we were all exhausted by two days of papers and presentations….
Last week I also had the privilege of presenting the Accords in New York at a luncheon hosted by the PR League, the student association of NYU’s Masters in Public Relations and Corporate Communication. Some 25 students, 5 faculty members and a few guests (John Paluszek, Don Bates, David Rosen and others).
Once more, the first question:
‘but what is PR?’
and, as students seemed more interested in learning about what was new in the Accords, the faculty and guests insisted on the original sins and issues of our 20th century profession.
These two events led me to remember that daring pdf published here some time ago with the title: What is PR?, so brilliantly edited by Catherine Arrow which puts together more than one year of discussion amongst us, that brilliantly bridges and ‘creolizes’ old and new and leads readers to a better understanding of contemporary public relations.
As we well know, the long tail does not necessarily imply that any paper becomes definite.
And, of course, there is no definite answer to any question, let alone what a profession is about, in a period when all professional boundaries are crumbling.