This post specifically responds to a post by Eric Bryant, Director of Gnosis Arts, "an experience-driven public relations firm focusing on tech, social media & nonprofit PR" in the US. In the post, Eric addresses the PRSA's Defining PR initiative (see my last two blog posts) and asserts that the definition of anything is simply a function of how the term is used.
"We chose this definition because we think it expresses what is both essential to public relations practice, as well as what distinguishes it from other management functions. Our definition also takes into account what most PRs do, most of the time, in carrying out their job duties."
And his company's definition is:
"Public relations is the practice of producing publicity (excluding promotional materials and paid advertising, which typically fall under the purview of Marketing); managing media relations and communications (typically among members of the Fourth Estate); and managing reputation."
First up, let me thank Eric for tweet-alerting me to his post. I particularly appreciate his diligent explanation of the definition, too often omitted by the more slapdash.
His firm's definition melds two 'what's and one 'why', reputation, justifying it on the basis of Wittgenstein's notion of "meaning as use" (ie, definitions are lent simply by the way a word or phrase is commonly used). While Wittgenstein's approach to language has its advocates, I'm not entirely clear it's helpful here, for two reasons.