For people who are supposed to be guardians of the written word, we just can’t help but create ‘new’ words can we, in the hope that they’ll become ‘real’ words one day.
So, I give you Communi(ty)cations – my suggestion for 2010’s definition of PR.
Sadly this is not a ‘new’ word (let’s face it, in 2009 it’s pretty damn hard to create anything truly original) and even more sadly, it’s doesn’t quite roll off the tongue that smoothly does it?
However, I hope the sentiment / rationale is what you take away from reading this post (that’s all I’ve got by the way, I can’t even validate your cyber parking, sorry).
What does it mean?
I’d describe it as ‘communicating with your ‘communities’ in a unified and integrated way.’
‘Communities’ is probably the key word and not in the traditional PR sense (I’ll get on to ‘relations’ later).
It is my argument that what used to be referred to as ‘target audiences’ have now become ‘pursued communities’ – people we want to engage / talk ‘with’ as opposed to talk ‘at.’
The rise of social media is a primary reason behind this shift, but you could argue that mediums like radio have been part of this movement for decades.
‘Unity’ – which in this case refers to adopting a truly unified approach to your communications – is where the traditional definition of PR is challenged.
Frustratingly, I wouldn’t have to write this post if ‘media relations’ was tainted with a less traditional brush.
And we know that ‘public relations’ and ‘media relations’ are not the same thing – media relations is a way of communicating with the public / your audience, as opposed to PR which is about adopting the best method of communication to deliver / manage a message.
‘Community relations’ is another term which could sum up what we are doing more of – but again, this already means something else.
Why do we need a new definition?
I wish we didn’t need one. But for some reason (and this is just my opinion) PR people aren’t always seen as communications specialists, when they should be.
No matter the platform, the same rules of ‘communication’ apply – and that involves tailoring your approach / message to the audience you want to reach.
So, even though it’s a bit of a mouthful, perhaps ‘communi(ty)cations’ is one way of capturing the role of PR a bit better…or it’s just another failed attempt to embed a new ‘word’ into the mainstream.
Either way, the message is the same: treat your audiences as communities and you have more of a chance of ‘reaching’ them as opposed to ‘preaching’ to them (and failing).
Note: These are my personal opinions…as convoluted as they are!