PR Does Not Stand for Press Release (and Other Misconceptions)


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I recently had a discussion with a man who is building a business that is aiming to help PR professionals with their biggest workflow issues.

He was very kind, and was asking me informed questions regarding the common issues I have and have seen coworkers deal with, when he said,

“We want to help press release… I mean PR professionals…”

Before answering his question, I clarified,

“PR does not stand for press release, it stands for public relations.”

Do people really think that PR professionals make an entire career of writing press releases?

I did a little research.

Remembering that Rosanna Fiske mentioned this while PRSA was redefining PR and after reading Patrick Slevin’s PR Week article on the subject, I asked the following people how they describe my career to others.

  • My mother (a retired psychiatric Therapy Aid): “My daughter does public relations and she works online.”
  • My brother (a professional Handyman): “Public relations or some s***”
  • My father (a Correctional Officer): “Kelly works on the computer.”

Note: my father is still afraid of computers

  • My boyfriend (a Ski and Snowboard Instructor/golf course Assistant Irrigation Technologist): “A publicist who does social media.”

As Patrick said, “As PR practitioners, it’s our responsibility to further the public dialogue. It’s our charge to educate and inform audiences and allow them the opportunity to reject or accept our messages, impressions, and meanings, which is the way of public relations.”

Shel Israel argued that the definition of the industry should not be the focal point, as the ‘Digital Age’ has not changed this, but rather, ”it changes the tools of engagement for the professional communicator.”

Either way, I don’t think that this exercise was (is) done enough when PR was redefined, so I encourage you all to ask your family members, spouses/partners and friends what they think PR stands for and what PR professional do, and share their responses in the comments.

You may be very surprised about the results of your own messaging. I was, and am currently working to correct it.

 Kelly is a traveler, New York native, public relations and social media professionalavid music lovertechie, and psychologist. She is passionate about enabling meaningful conversations and connections via the social web, believes that learning is lifelong and enjoys discovering new tactics to create and sustain brand identity and influence and maintain advocates.

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