Stop Calling us PR “Practitioners!”

By Matter

Somewhere along the way the PR industry got a bad rap. Maybe it was one too many gum-snapping, vapid airheads masquerading as public relations pros that tarnished our field. They’re a rare and feckless creature, but they have and do exist.

Just as the newspaper business has caricatures of hard-boiled, cigarette-smoking, bourbon-swilling reporters, the public relations industry has its own cartoonish persona that undermines the very real, very important work being done.  It’s not fair. It’s not accurate. But it’s there.

Enter the term “PR Practitioner.”

Practitioner, you see, is a serious-sounding word which is supposed to add credibility to the profession. PR Practitioners aren’t empty-headed – they’re strategic!  PR Practitioners aren’t eye-candy; they’re brainy, and laser-focused on results!

And so on.

Never mind that the reality has always been far different from the perception of PR people. The overwhelming majority of PR pros, male and female, are highly educated and extremely capable of driving a client’s business forward. We are the people you want in the room during times of crisis, for example, because we understand how to effectively communicate to all audiences.

PR agencies have long argued, and rightfully so, that their firms deserve a seat at the boardroom table alongside marketers and advertisers to make the case for bigger PR budgets.

Notice I didn’t say marketing practitioners and advertising practitioners? Our fellow industries don’t feel the need to overcompensate by tacking on an “official-sounding” word to their jobs. PR people shouldn’t either, and the reality is: they don’t.

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.

My fellow PR pros know we’ve earned our stripes again and again, helping businesses achieve serious growth metrics, so can we just stop using silly words in some lame attempt to validate our existence?

Our PR agency is called Matter Communications, because matter has substance, and because results matter. You don’t have to be a brain surgery practitioner to know that’s what’s most important.