As a perpetual student and university professor, I am drawn to definitions. Isn’t it comforting to have definitions? Defining boxes that keep us in a secure environment? Perhaps it is the personal life changes I am making, but I find these definitions are now constraining. With these definitions, a plethora of baggage is crammed behind closed doors. Between Bill Sledzik’s post seeking a unified definition of public relations and John Bell’s recent post, The 11 Skills of the Public Relations Practitioner of the Future, I want to throw my hands up in the air and scream, “What gives?” We are too busy defining and do not spend enough time practicing and sharing lessons learned.
The debate over what is the overall definition of public relations is tiring. I have heard and participated in this debate countless times. I want to see examples of real life practitioners practicing public relations and learn from their examples. Everyone has a different context in which they learn definitions, and as we evolve individually, the context of our learning takes new shape and our definitions realign. There is not a universal definition, but there are universally good practitioners.
John Bell suggests we should call ourselves communicators versus public relations professionals…is this because our industry definition is evolving or are we running away from the baggage being dragged behind our profession? John Bell lists the knowledge and skills of the PR soldier of the future, but I still think with such a list we are trying too hard to manage and control. After all, his list contrasts significantly with Bill’s “PR is NOT marketing” approach. Who is right? Our careers began with a definition. Are you letting the definition manage your career? What is your take?