PR and the public good

With so much emphasis on Public Relations as “spin,” only used to make bad situations appear better than they are, I found an interesting post about Public Relations being used to contribute to the public good. On the PR Studies blog, Richard Bailey discusses his attendance at a police public relations conference. As Bailey says, these PR¬†practitioners work everyday on crime reduction and don’t have to go chasing headlines. He discusses some of the work that was impressive to him, such as a broadcast journalists video of a victim with fireworks burns. The video received thousands of hits when it was uploaded to youtube. In my opinion, PR is constantly used in ways to contribute to the public good. Many times, these uses of PR are overlooked. Somehow people emphasize the ways in which they think PR was misused or abused. Do you think PR is used frequently enough for the public good? If so, why is it not shown in this light and what could be done to change the public’s perception of PR?

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11 Responses to PR and the public good

  1. cate415 says:

    I think the history of public relations has ultimately led to its bad reputation as far as being labeled ‘spin doctors’ because, in earlier pr days, there were many more instances of this occuring. However, public relations has definitely taken a 360 degree turn since its early days and I think that it needs to be fully recognized as positively contributing to the public good. The more positive press that the field gets by doing good in society, the further away it will get from the original negative connotations that have stuck with it through the years.

  2. asbrooks04 says:

    There will always be someone bashing on any number of professions. Once someone has achieved a personal understanding, or had a negative experience, it is, like most situations, pretty hard to work against their narrative of something, including PR. All we can do is continue to behave ethically.

  3. dfishfel says:

    I agree with abrooks04, in that with any profession there will be people out there who have negative feelings towards that profession and they will express it. I also feel that it is very common for people to only look at the negative sides of certain situations. For every 10 good things someone does, it only takes 1 mistake for everyone to forget. And that is how I feel the general public looks at PR. For every 10 ethical PR firms there might be one firm who ruins it for everyone. It is up to us, the new and improved generation of PR practitioners, to bring the positive work and actions to the public light. We need to make sure that our good work does not get overlooked because I do feel that PR is used frequently for the public good.

  4. bkranz says:

    I definitely think PR has a bad reputation for not always doing the “right” thing, whatever that may be. While it may not be true, criticism is inevitable. There really isn’t a way to completely squash all of the “spin” comments or beliefs, but the best way for PR practitioners to shake the bad reputation would be to work with reputable companies that benefit society, not necessarily to generate a profit. In today’s economic standing, that isn’t always possible but it’s always something many people overlook. Non-profits are fantastic ways to use PR skills for good, I think it would be helpful if more agencies and professionals worked more with charities then with corporations.

  5. wackyzachy47 says:

    When I get asked what my major is, I respond, “I am a Honors double major in Public Relations and Political Science, with a minor in European Historiy, pursuing a Certificate in International Relations.” If their head wasn’t spinning after I get that mouthful out, almost the first thing they ask everytime, “What is Public Relations?” I always manage to find this funny. I go on to explain what it is I would do if I was a PR professional and they then say, “Oh you are the ones that make things look good when someone screws up?” As has been commented on, we still have an uphill battle to climb. There will always be crisis and for that the PR profession will always be in the limelight for that. One false step can ruin it for everyone, and it has. As aspiring PR professionals we just need to work our hardest to make sure that we remain ethical and dedicated to the task of promoting positive PR.

  6. knish21087 says:

    Since PR is still such a new field I think that the public is just confused as to what it is we actually do. Since the negative side is often more portrayed in the media than the positive side, I think that the public gets the wrong impression. It is only fair that as PR practitioners we get the short end of the stick when it comes to maintaining a positive image. After all me are suppose to master how to create a solid image in the media and throughout the public. If we can’t even do that for ourselves than I don’t know who we can do it for.

  7. marialinda17 says:

    I agree that PR is often used for the public good. Nonprofits, foundations and other worthy causes utilize PR to gain awareness. I’ve been involved in many nonprofit Latino organizations in the Valley, volunteering my time and energy and I’ve witnessed PR being used for good purposes. Working for the the City of Phoenix’s TV station, which is very much like 24/7 PR for the city, also produced PSAs about random gunfire and other important safety measures that are beneficial to the public. As a PR practitioner, this gives me confidence that this profession will one day receive the positive feedback it deserves.

  8. mara2009 says:

    I agree with marialinda17. PR is frequently used to promote good causes. That is the purpose of nonprofit PR. The industry has a bad reputation, though, because of its origins in propaganda. However, making the public aware of the good that PR can bring will hopefully change this stigma.

  9. amyfoley1975 says:

    I don’t think that PR is used for the public good enough to have it be recognized for it. I think PR today is used more for personal companies who want to better their communication with their clients or get their name out there. If PR was used for the public good more instead of for individual companies then I think we as practitioners would not have the stigma that we have.

  10. lbridge says:

    It seems like no matter what anyone may say or do, someone will still have a negative opinion of PR practitioners and the industry as a whole because of what maybe a small percentage of the industry does. The only thing we can really do to combat this is continue to act ethically and hope that eventually others/outsiders will take notice.

  11. brittz87 says:

    I think it is very rare that PR practitioners are recognized for doing something good. I think this is because it is not PR practitioners jobs to get a pat on the back, but to build someone else’s reputation. I don’t think that not receiving recognition negatively effects how PR professionals do their jobs. I think that most people in this field realize that this is not a glamorous job for us, but the people we are representing.

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