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April 06, 2011

Response to Social Media Today Blogger's Call for Disbandment of PRSA

Following a blog post in Social Media Today that called for the disbandment of PRSA and other professional associations, Arthur Yann, APR, PRSA vice president of public relations, responded with the following comment rebutting several of blogger Gary Goldhammer's points:

Actually, PRSA agrees that “public engagement" is functionally agnostic.

Which is why it’s disingenuous and odd that you would rely on the expressed view of a single individual (who may or may not be one of PRSA 32,000 members), at a single PRSA-hosted event (out of thousands), at a single PRSA Chapter (out of 112 across the country) to triangulate our organization's view and, on that basis, sound a clarion call to disband it after more than 60 years in existence.

PRSA trains public relations professionals (we “represent” individuals, not agencies) to use social media as a means of achieving their clients’ and organizations’ objectives. And while we often note that the typical skills used by public relations professionals are also well-suited to working in social media, that doesn’t mean we believe only public relations professionals should use social media. If it doesn’t work that way in our own organization — where cross-functional teams collaboratively “own” social media — why would we suggest it work that way in yours?

(BTW, if you ask us whether public relations is a “legacy discipline that no longer has relevance,” we have an opinion on that, too … regardless of the definition du jour used in support of your argument.)

For someone who is not and never has been a PRSA member to say that we have lost our relevance on the basis of a single individual’s views; and that our ethics, diversity, advocacy, learning, mentoring, networking and awards programs thereby have no redeeming value; and that we should take the AMA and 4As with us when we go ... well, that, frankly, strikes us a great example of social media’s failings.
If Steve Rubel was available, none of this would have happened.
Arthur Yann is vice president of public relations for PRSA.

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