There’s a misconception in our society about public relations. Most people don’t know what it is, so their conceptions of the profession are all over the place. All public relations students have experienced that awkward moment when you’re stumbling over your words at the family Thanksgiving table trying to explain how public relations has evolved beyond “spin.”
Maybe people’s ideas are derived from poor examples on TV or in the news or — gasp — from our profession’s past mishaps, but the reality is that public relations is not easy to explain. It’s a diverse industry, and it’s changed a lot over the years.
During my time as PRSSA National President, I’ve explained time and time again what public relations is, how the industry is shifting and that solid practitioners actually do adhere to the PRSA Code of Ethics. While PRSA provides a sufficient definition of public relations that those familiar with the industry understand, it’s important to me that we know how to put it into terms that everyone can understand — our moms, our friends, our neighbors and our peers. As I get ready to transition out of my position, I want to help engage our members to be prepared to answer — in layman’s terms — the question they’re bound to get asked sooner or later: “What is public relations?”
Over the course of the next few weeks, be on the lookout for Progressions posts, graphics and videos featuring the hashtag #thisispublicrelations that will shed some light on this crucial question. I’m excited to learn alongside you!
Laura Daronatsy is serving as the PRSSA 2015–2016 National President, and is an alumna of Biola University in La Mirada, California.