By Edward M. Bury, APR
Rains and wind pummeled much of Chicago Sunday, stripping away the fall colors from many trees here in my neighborhood. The middle of October kind of signals the start of the end of the growing season around here.
For example: The scene adjacent to this image — taken just a week ago — shows trees in full fall display. It doesn’t look like that now around here, and probably in lots of other places.
And, that’s okay, because that’s what’s supposed to happen. Things change. It’s part of the “natural order of things,” you know.
This may be mixing metaphors, but something similar took place on the other side of the continent from here. At the 2012 Assembly of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) held in San Francisco, a slate of candidates was nominated (and I trust later elected) to serve the interests of the 20,000-plus members of the Society. They’ll be entrusted with guiding the Society and replace other leaders who served admirably the year before.
For the record, I know some of these folks personally, having worked with them on the Universal Accreditation Board. I’m confident they’ll do a fine job, and I maintain that men and women who volunteer and are elected to national office for the public relations profession probably do so for three key reasons:
1. They believe in the mission of PRSA, which is to “Advance the Profession and the Professional.”
2. They gain value in serving the Society and working with top-level professionals from across the nation.
3. It’s cool to tell colleagues you’re part of the PRSA national hierarchy.
Okay, just kidding about the last one, although there may be some truth there. Back to reality. I applaud the incoming national leaders and wish them much success in 2013. If any of the new officers read this post, please accept my congratulations. And, when you have the time, please consider these suggestions on how to Advance the Profession.
Stress Ethical Practices. There’s no place in modern public relations for stretching ethical guidelines. It doesn’t matter if it’s a colossal ethical campaign blunder committed by a national firm or poor judgment from a sole practitioner, this nonsense has to stop if public relations is expected to be respected in the C-Suite or on Main Street. Last month, PRSA held Ethics Awareness Month. Those uncertain of how ethics applies to public relations should learn. Now.
Continue to Define What We Do. For some reason, the world does not comprehend the difference between public relations and other types of communications. In March, PRSA used crowdsourcing to engage professionals to define public relations. I wholeheartedly agree with the definition, and I do my best to promote it. The one word within that drives it home: Strategic. Without a program strategy, we’re delegated to be the people who blow up balloons at parties.
Drive Home the Value of Accreditation. In the “full disclosure” department, I served on the UAB for six years and have been passionate about promoting the merits of earning the Accreditation in Public relations credential. The credential has been under fire, probably since it was founded. But in a profession without licensing, it’s one tangible way to identify a professional who has demonstrated at least competency in the fundamentals necessary in modern public relations.
So, here’s a virtual toast to the 2013 PRSA Leadership Team. If you could share thoughts on how to improve the profession, what would they be?