‘PR Practitioner’ Job Title Out of Step?

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According to one PR Daily article, the commonly used job title “public relations practitioner” is actually unbecoming of the profession. Author Parry Headrick argues that the term is an unnecessary attempt to “overcompensate by tacking on an ‘official-sounding’ word to [the] job.” He insists that PR professionals have already proven their worth as essential to company communications, and do not need a puffed-up designation in order to be taken seriously.

Indeed, it’s valid that the formal title might sound stuffy in some social settings. As Headrick points out, “Show me a PR person who describes himself as a ‘PR practitioner’ at a cocktail party and I’ll show you a person who will be standing alone very quickly.”

Yet, I don’t see the harm in using the term in an academic or professional setting. For instance, I include aspiring PR practitioner in my Twitter bio. Some of Headrick’s suggested alternatives simply don’t seem appropriate in all situations. I think “PR pro” sounds too self-important, especially for someone who is still in college. Yet “PR person” sounds too general and informal for someone on the job hunt. So what noun should we use?

PR director, executive, manager, coordinator, specialist — the variety of existing titles goes on. My personal favorite comes from one of the column’s commenters, who joked that perhaps we should call ourselves “public relagents.”

Regardless of your views, the fact remains our profession does not have one consistent, overarching title. But perhaps that fact is key in such a dynamic industry because every position is a little different. What are your thoughts on keeping or nixing the practitioner title?

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1 Response to ‘PR Practitioner’ Job Title Out of Step?

  1. Minda Elliott says:

    I think it is silly for someone to suggest that the title of being a ‘PR Practitioner’ is anything close to facetious. When you look at the root of the word, it is the perfect definition of what we do in its simplest form. A ‘PR Practitioner’-i.e. someone who practices relations with the public. While I do like the sound of ‘PR specialist’, I think ‘PR professional’ or ‘PR person’ sound informal and non-descriptive. You do not call a doctor a ‘medical person’. Ultimately, I believe this is a discussion of opinion, and if Headrick would rather call himself a PR manager, then he may. However, I will not be changing my Twitter bio anytime, either.

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