Transform PR into Public Relationships

What’s in a Name? 

About 5 years ago, I actually attempted to start a process for changing the name of the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA) to the National School Public Relationship Association. (Also NSPRA). 

Well, as trial balloons go, this one was quickly grounded. As one NSPRA Board member told us, it sounded like we were offering a “dating service.”  

To me, the eventual name change would have better communicated what the goal of our work really is: to build healthy, credible, two-way relationships with all our key internal and external audiences. At least evident to me, the name change would help us in a number of ways: 

  • It would help us rid ourselves of the negative connotations of PR. You know the people who just say PR is spin doctoring, and you’re just saying anything to cover up the truth to get you through confrontational situations or making the select few (bosses) look good, etc. Just do some quick “man-on-the-street” interviews and ask people what PR is. The answers you receive will probably be a lot more negative than the ones I listed. 
  • It would help demonstrate that PR is more than publicity, just one of the many functions practiced by our professionals. Yet many people still believe that is the core function of the PR office. In recent NSPRA membership surveys, generating publicity is receiving less attention and time on task that 5 years ago, and much less than 10 years ago. 
  • It would concretely communicate upfront that relationship building is at the foundation of our work. 

Right now, when people ask me about NSPRA, I quickly explain that we are in the relationship-building business. I note that we still support and provide training and assistance for all the functions of a comprehensive communication and public relations office, but credible relationship building is a major function of the office. 

So when people ask you what a school PR person does for a living, tell them that you are in the public relationship-building business. They may start understanding what you do for a living and why it’s so important for the ongoing support of your schools. 

Rich Bagin, APR

NSPRA Executive Director

 

 

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