PRSA bylaw proposal 1702, changing “PR” to “communications” in “most locations,” has touched off a furious debate on the Society’s website.

“PRSA should be advocating on behalf of public relations,” wrote Kay Barkin, MHMR, Fort Worth. The bylaw will be voted on Oct. 7 in Boston.

PRSA CCO Laura Kane, answering the critics, said only 13% of members have “PR” in their titles. “We selected the term communications because it is more encompassing than PR.”

Laura KanePRSA CCO Laura Kane

Kay BarkinKay Barkin

Anthony HicksAnthony Hicks

“The intention of the bylaw,” she said, “was to address the importance of digital and social on the profession as it continues to evolve. What has traditionally been defined as PR is now being described as social media, digital communications, content management and influencer marketing among others.”

PRSA Should Promote “PR,” Says Member

“Wouldn’t it be the role of PRSA to help individuals with all these different titles to understand they are part of PR, instead of simply making PR part of communications?” Barkin asks.

Titles that Kane had mentioned in a response to her “would fit neatly under PR in the profession’s truest sense as strategies or tactics, and it seems to me PRSA should be advocating on behalf of PR,” she added.

Anthony Hicks of SRVS, Memphis, said “Completely eliminating the words PR from the bylaws of a professional assn. with PR in its official name, that is founded and grounded in PR, is a pretty significant move that seems to warrant a compromise.”

The reason for the change, wrote Kane, was “to take a forward look at where titles associated with our profession are headed.”

Bylaw May Be Changed

Society leaders including Mark McClennan, SVP of MSL Group, 2016 Society chair, acknowledged there has been “great feedback” on the issue and said a compromise is being worked out. He said there was “confusion” on it.

An amendment has been made but it can only be revealed on the day of the Assembly, he said. The parliamentarian is reviewing the language, and he expects a formal amendment proposal to #1702 to be posted in the Leadership Assembly delegate forum next week.