Plans for an upcoming experiment by Ogilvy PR's New York office reminded us of one of PR's great enigmas: an industry of communicators' inability to explain what it does.
We had a running feature on odwyerpr.com for a few years starting in early 2001 that posted definitions of PR by our readers. The responses ranged from lofty (even self-righteous) manifestos, to simple mission statements of a few words. I resurrected the list today and have made it accessible for anyone wanting to browse it or add their $0.02. Here is the page.
Ogilvy is doing its part to answer a question posed by many puzzled parents, spouses and children: "What exactly do you do?" The firm's New York office will host Bring Your Parents to Work Day, which will include a PR 101 lesson and an overview of what goes on in the life of a PR professional.
From a release the firm sent over:
Employees have found that their parents are often confused about PR, even though they are exposed to it every day when they read a great review about a new product or respond to coverage of a company’s crisis, to name a few. Ogilvy PR realized that this was an opportunity for the company to illustrate the connection, while strengthening its ties to its employees. ...Similar to “Bring Your Child to Work Day”, “Bring Your Parents to Work Day” will allow attendees to learn more about the profession as well as the challenges and experiences communications professionals experience on a daily basis.
As for the definition of PR, here are a few of the gems from our readers:
Public relations is conveying to the public what you want them to know and hoping they receive it the way you spun it.
PR is whatever the client wants it to be.
Promotion of a product or company in the guise of an editorial, feature or newsletter.
PR is establishing and maintaining the client's reputation while creating goodwill. The challenge is in the maintenance.
Public relations is the art of taking all the credit and none of the blame.
For the record, the Merriam-Webster definition is this:
public relations: the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution; also : the degree of understanding and goodwill achieved