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Introducing PRServing America

PRSA Perspectives: PRSA Cares
by William M. Murray, CAE, president and chief operating officer, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA).

How often has someone asked you,“So, what do you do for a living?” And,after stating that you are a PR professional, how many times has someone responded with an unflattering stereotype?

While we can’t help you avoid the question, PRSA can help you answer it. Last month at the Leadership Rally, we announced a new initiative intended to do just that called PRServing America.

As professionals, we know that public relations helps address the issues that Americans care about — issues concerning our health, safety and common well-being. PR practitioners make a difference in settings ranging from small agencies to government, from large corporations to nonprofit organizations,and even within PRSA’s own Chapters.

How do we know this is true? Every year at our Silver Anvil Awards,we formally recognize excellent programs that improve our society. Every year, we hear from our Chapters about the pro bono work they do in their communities. Every year, we are delighted by the work of our PRSSA members, who give their time and energy for a wide variety of causes, such as improving financial literacy in under-served communities.

But in our busy lives, we tend to notice these efforts only in passing,quickly moving on to the next tweet, the next new thing.

Recognizing good PR work
As a result, the PRSA National Board has created PRServing America, a program that will encourage and celebrate good works done through public relations. PR Serving America will:

  • Identify and celebrate those PRSA Chapters, Sections, Districts and PRSSA Chapters that are giving back by undertaking pro bono work in their communities.
  • Support the pro bono work of PRSA Chapters, Sections, Districts and PRSSA Chapters through an awards program that will recognize the most outstanding work with modest cash awards.
  • Celebrate those companies and organizations that, through PR campaigns, have created Silver Anvil award-winning work that has bettered our communities.
  • Educate PRSA members about innovative and exemplary ways that public relations can give back to our communities.
  • Identify select opportunities for PRSA volunteers on a national level to give back to our communities through in-person opportunities in conjunction with PRSA events.

Through PRServing America, we intend to not only recognize the good work done by and through public relations, but to also encourage that work.Equally important, we want to give every one of our members another tool to help foster a better understanding of the PR profession.

In 2009, we launched the Business Case for Public Relations — a collection of measurement tools, messages, articles, case studies and other resources to help you convey the value of public relations to organizations. Now PRServing America can help you explain to your neighbors, family and friends the relevance of public relations — and how it can affect them in a positive way.

You can learn more about PRServing America on our website. I encourage you to check it out and discuss with your Chapter, Section and District what they might be doing to give back.And as a good PR professional, take away your own personal messaging to be prepared the next time someone asks, “What do you do for a living?”

This article originally appeared in the July 2011 issue of Public Relations Tactics.