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Canadian PR Definition

The Bottom Line Is That Canadian PR Pros Practice In The Public Interest

by Judi Gunter, BA, APR, FCPRS, L.M.

My  parents would have liked the idea that the Canadian Public Relations Society didn’t go in lock step with the Public Relations Society of America in the matter of defining what Public Relations is and what it does.

Nothing against Americans, you understand, but Mom and Dad simply believed Canadians were different.  Beloved abroad as a pleasing people, polite to the core and ever having to say we’re sorry.   Sweet.

In  her February letter to members, our CPRS president  Pierette Leonard APR FCPRS shared our thought leaders’ insights from our Society’s own defining movement.  When the PRSA decided last year that they were going to up-date their definition of PR, we Canadians had urged our colleagues to the south to pay attention to cultural and societal context and the consideration of values in their definition.

You see, a few years ago we PR practitioners ‘north of 49’ had waded through the maple syrup, figuratively speaking, to come up with our own modern definition.   Not by initiating an on-line free-for-all  as did the Americans this year, but by committee, following rigorous research and analysis. How blessedly Canadian!

(Actually as I explained in my previous blog post,  our colleagues to the south took their process quite socially.)

 Underpinning our extensive consultation process leading up to the endorsement of our own “made in Canada” definition three years ago was a deep down,  soul searching conversation about our vision and values.

Next our “defining architects” had engaged in content analysis of more than 400 definitions of PR that had been submitted by PR academics to a Defining Public Relations wiki.   These were carved down to 20 for further discussion, arriving at last to a working definition which was sliced and diced by the best and the brightest minds from our national Board of Directors and the Council on Education.

When it was all said and done, the Canadian Public Relations Society endorsed the following definition at our 2009 annual general meeting and it is to this definition of contemporary public relations we intend to stick:

“Public relations is the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, through the use of communications, to achieve mutual understanding, realize organizational goals and serve the public interest.”

 We’re not just sticking with it because of all the time and energy that went into our thinking process.  We’re holding our own because we believe that Public Relations should serve the public interest and we believe that wording that value into our definition is vital.

Too good to be true?   At Tenato Strategy, we believe it’s the right thing to do.

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About the Author - Judi Gunter
Judi Gunter BA, APR, FCPRS, L.M., Public Relations Strategist Judi blogs on the adventures of how a techno-phobic baby boomer conquers the rapidly evolving world of PR…As an honoured fellow of the Canadian Public Relations Society, Judi Gunter has more than 30 years’ experience in the field of public relations. She has won several national PR awards in recognition of her expertise in planning, organizing and implementing public awareness programs.