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Farewell Public Relations

February 15, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

There comes a time in every person’s life and career when it’s time to move on and accept that things have changed.

Well that time has finally come for me.

I did not reach this decision easily or without much soul-searching and it isn’t being announced lightheartedly.

I know in my heart of hearts that this is the right decision for me personally and professionally. The time is right, I can’t put this off any longer. Today is the day.

After 15 years of identifying myself as a PR guy, today is the end. No more answering to PR dude, PR hack, PR flack etc.

No, I haven’t gotten fired or started a new job, but today is the day, I personally draw the line. No Mas. As of today, I’m no longer identifying myself as a PR professional. I am in communications.

Okay, maybe in the big picture that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is freeing to finally type it out loud.

The changes in the industry have been happening for a while. We’ve seen PR agencies transform into Communications agencies, we’ve seen SEO and social media change public relations forever. Which is why part of me can’t help but feel like I’m not leaving PR, but PR in fact left me. I can’t help but think that history will say that public relations missed its chance to enter the board room because it failed to co-opt social media and hasn’t done a great job of expanding the job description to include disciplines often associated with marketing, like, messaging, branding, positioning and siloed disciplines like analyst and influencer relations.

Public relations isn’t dying. I’m not one of those that believes that PR is dying as an industry, hell, I’m not even of the belief that the press release is dying. But, for me I can no longer identify myself as a PR guy. I’ll still participate in conversations about PR, I’ll still blog and tweet about PR, I’ll even keep PR as my nickname and initials, but starting today, when asked what I do for a living, ‘I’m in communications’ will be my reply.

Ok, so saying I’m in communications could mean corporate comms, internal or external, PR, media relations, analyst relations, crisis comms, social media, positioning, branding, marketing, content development etc., but for me, the day-to-day responsibilities will not define me and I’ll never be limited to one of the above again.

Some changes come easily and automatically. When you turn 13 you are officially a teenager; at 18 you are an adult, at 40 you are no longer young (ouch) etc., but sometimes you need to reflect and draw that line in the sand yourself. This blog post is my line in the sand.

Like most major changes, the seeds were planted long ago and the exact date the evolution happened will be difficult to pinpoint for the industry, but for me, the date is TODAY. So, while my job description may include public relations, I will consider how PR decisions impact ALL of the above – because it is my job and it is who I am.

Who is with me? Any PR folks out there willing to declare this is their last day in public relations?

Image by Scottchan

  1. February 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    Wow, I almost fainted there when I though you were leaving the biz! I can understand how PR has to evolve with the introduction of different communications vehicles. I often feel that PR (as in media relations and external communications) only encompasses a part of the work I do. So often in communications professions, it’s difficult to clearly articulate the multitude of duties we perform on a daily basis. You’re taking a bold move here, but maybe that’s what the industry needs 🙂

    • February 22, 2011 at 8:01 pm

      Thanks for your reply. It was a fun one to write to be honest. Like I said it isn’t ground-breaking, but it had to be said. At least I had to say it for my own peace of mind.

  2. February 15, 2011 at 2:17 pm

    I totally applaud your quitting the PR business and entering the Communications business. I do tend to use that word as much or more than PR because more people seem to understand it in passing conversation. I do everything you mentioned above. I’m a communicator – and proud of it. And I’ll follow you declare this my last day in PR.

    • February 22, 2011 at 8:03 pm

      Thanks that makes two of us. We may not be a big group, but we’ll certainly be fun. Thanks for stopping by to comment. I always appreciate your insight – especially when you agree with me.

  3. February 18, 2011 at 4:19 pm

    Yeah, I’m with you. I haven’t used the ‘pee-are’ designation for a pretty long time now. It seems to convey a past life. Our profession has changed so much in the past five years, it’s time for the way we describe it to catch up. Communicate on!

  4. February 18, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Rebranding won’t make people love you any more. It will simply make them wonder what you were hiding.

  5. February 21, 2011 at 4:07 am

    A number of years ago I went to a big PR industry conference. There were loads of sessions given by marketers and fields complementary to, and sometimes outside, ‘normal’ PR, more like marcomms. And you know what, these valuable sessions were virtually empty and sessions like ‘how to pitch to a journo’ were full. Tres depressing, so I hear you Paul!

  6. Dwight Whitney
    February 22, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    Congratulations and welcome to the sunny side of life where you can communicate versus merely relate. Or let your relations out of prison and into the public. It has always been about communication but those practitioners of the ‘dark arts’ of public relations who are intent on taking the humanity out of the process only have themselves to blame. I embraced the C word years ago for it allows one to be ‘a rootless cosmopolitan and spreader of alien ideas’…with a souciant of gadfly thrown in.

    Welcome, enjoy, fly high, and now put forward the proposition of ‘Come UNICATE WITH ME’.

    • February 22, 2011 at 8:04 pm

      Dwight, thanks so much for the very well thought-out comment.

  7. Ellen Bristol
    February 23, 2011 at 8:24 am

    Welcome to the other side of PR.

  8. February 28, 2011 at 11:05 pm

    I’m with you! As a fellow PR PROFESSIONAL (also named Paul Roberts!) I made my move from PR to communications a year ago. Only in my case that meant starting an Internet Talk Radio station here in Orange County, California at http://www.OCTalkRadio.net. Think of it as a community radio station. A place where business owners and executives can gain a voice on the Internet. Our motto is “stimulating conversations”. So if you or any of your other readers would like to book a client or “communicate” yourself, check us out! And good luck communicating your new view to others!

  9. March 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Welcome aboard Paul! I agree with you that ‘PR’ is pretty limited in its scope. “Communications” gets into much broader territory. Except now you’re gonna have to change the name of your blog!

    Bob Allen

  10. Jörn
    August 18, 2011 at 3:12 am

    How goes it? Is that wrapping of communications making all the difference? How well are you doing with specifying a feedback loop for every message that you’re sending?

  1. February 15, 2011 at 2:43 pm
  2. February 16, 2011 at 6:22 pm
  3. February 18, 2011 at 9:29 am

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