Monday, February 16, 2009

PRSA-OKC Responds to Smear on the Profession

On Feb. 10, USA Today published a book review which casts the public relations profession in a most unflattering light. PRSA chapters across the country are responding to this attack on the profession. PRSA-OKC has submitted the following letter to the editor.

Thank you to Derinda Lowe, PRSA-OKC President, and Katherine Leidy, PRSA-OKC Advocacy Officer, for actively supporting PRSA's goal of advancing the profession and the professional. Well done, ladies.

Letter to the Editor

February 12, 2009
To the Editor:

As the public relations profession continues to take hits in the media, we feel it necessary to respond to comments made in a Feb. 10 USA Today book review regarding the profession. In his review of the book PR: A Persuasive Industry: Spin, Public Relations and the Shaping of the Modern Media by Trevor Morris and Simon Goldsworthy, Seth Brown presents the view that "PR is amoral, difficult to define, and difficult to measure." We'd like to share a local, insider's take on that notion.

As members of the Oklahoma City chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, we're part of a group of 157 metro area PR professionals who abide by a code of ethics that includes specific provisions for advancing the free flow of accurate and truthful information, and for disclosing all information necessary to foster informed decision making in a democratic society. These are professionals that serve an important role in fostering mutually beneficial relationships between the public and non-profit organizations, associations, government agencies, academic institutions and businesses. A majority of our members received a formal college education in public relations, communication and journalism, and 25 percent have taken the extra step to become accredited in public relations.

To the layperson, PR is often viewed as simply "publicity." Writing and disseminating information to the media and acting as a liaison between an organization and the media is but one small part of a PR professional's work. While it is the work that is most visible to the people who write about PR in the media and the people who read it, PR professionals and the organizations that hire them know that there is much more to it.

In our democratic, free society, PR helps people reach decisions and function more effectively by contributing to mutual understanding among groups and institutions through two-way communication and building relationships. It helps organizations understand the attitudes and values of different audiences in order to further the achievement of their goals. The PR professional serves as a counselor to management and acts as a mediator to help translate an organization's goals into reasonable, publicly acceptable policies and actions, and to mitigate risks.

Public relations involves a wide array of tactics and strategies, however its impact is easy to measure with both attitudinal and behavioral metrics, as well as financial measures, such as return-on-investment. PR's impact can be quantified in terms of sales, market share, brand awareness, stock price, reputation and trust, customer satisfaction, fundraising, employee morale and retention, event participation, Web site traffic, and regulatory changes.

We encourage those who want to learn more about the PR profession to visit the Oklahoma City PRSA chapter's website at and join us at one of our monthly luncheon meetings.

Derinda Lowe, APR, President
Katherine Leidy, ABC, APR, Advocacy Officer
Public Relations Society of America, Oklahoma City Chapter