PRSA National on the "New" Definition of PR

    To PRSA Leadership:

    I am pleased to announce the much-awaited result of the PRSA-led “Public Relations Defined” initiative. Based on a public vote, held Feb. 13–26, of three candidate definitions, the profession’s choice for the modern definition of PR is:

    “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

    This definition received 671 votes, or 46.4 percent, of 1,447 total votes. Review the voting data and other resources from the initiative at the #PRDefined Resources page.

    Friday’s (March 2, 2012) New York Times advertising column has the exclusive announcement of the winning definition. Further analysis of the winning definition can be found in this blog post.

    As promised, PRSA will adopt the winning reference definition to replace the 1982 definition of public relations.

    The “Public Relations Defined” initiative has not only modernized what many considered to be a medley of dated concepts of public relations; it has reshaped an important conversation about the future of the profession and its value in the 21st-century business landscape. And for that, PRSA owes you a sincere debt of gratitude. Our members’ support and feedback are what made this campaign such a great feat.

    The definition that resulted from this effort is inclusive, in that it captures the core essence of what it is public relations professionals do. I believe that the chosen definition is true to the research process, and accurately reflects the way in which those who participated in this process described what it is they do for a living.

    As for what will become of the “Public Relations Defined” initiative, this blog post by Dave Rickey, APR, chair of PRSA’s Public Relations Defined Task Force, explains PRSA’s vision for the future of the campaign.

    Thank you for your support of PRSA.
    Best regards,

    Gerard "Gerry" Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA
    Chair and CEO
    Public Relations Society of America

    Five Lessons from Ballroom Dancing By Author of “Becoming Ginger Rogers”

    Five Lessons from Ballroom Dancing By Author of “Becoming Ginger Rogers”

    By Patrice tanaka

    Melissa Rycroft, reality TV star and recently crowned Mirror Ball Champion of ABC’s "Dancing with the Stars,” joins celebrity competitors from the past 15 seasons of this popular prime time show who rhapsodize about the life-transforming benefits of ballroom dancing, including weight loss, increased self-confidence, the thrill of doing something full-out and fearlessly, a sense of pride in accomplishing something they’ve never done before, and, importantly, joy.

    Ballroom dancing has made me a happier woman, a better partner, a smarter CEO, and now author of a book on the business and life lessons learned from ballroom dancing. Here are five lessons the ballroom world has to offer everyone from my book, Becoming Ginger Rogers:

    1. Like Melissa, be fully present – mind, body, and spirit

    To dance well, you must focus on executing your present step full out and fearlessly. It's your best guarantee that you will produce a great next step or future. Beating yourself up over a misstep, i.e., being stuck in the past, has the domino effect of imperiling your present and future step. 

    Off the dance floor I learned how much more powerful I could be in business by being fully present and not trying to multitask when someone else was talking. We’ve all been guilty of this. In any meeting, half the group is usually answering e-mails on their smartphones. They’re half paying attention and consequently, only getting half the information (verbal and nonverbal) they need to make the best decisions and provide the most informed counsel to colleagues and clients.

    Being fully present in a discussion, whether in your personal or professional life, results in better communication, better connections, and better partnering.

    2. Perfection is overrated – and inhibiting     

    At one ballroom dance competition, I made so many mistakes in my mambo (at the time my most terrifying dance) that I despaired of making the “finals,” which included the top six couples. I whined to my teacher that I knew I wouldn’t “place” (i.e., first, second or third in the finals) because of my mistakes. Well, lo and behold, I won first place. You’d think I would have been ecstatic. I wasn’t. I was bewildered that the judges awarded me a first place when I knew I didn’t deserve it. My teacher laughed when I told him I wanted to return my award. He explained that I won because I danced full out, communicated an understanding of the character of the dance, and showed that I was enjoying myself, not because I didn’t make any mistakes. That was a big revelation to me, and it has changed my approach in business.

    Now, when I’m at work, I try to focus on executing a task full out and fearlessly rather than worrying about doing it perfectly, which would just make everyone around me afraid of making a mistake and, therefore, unwilling to risk trying innovative new ways to promote and market our clients. The process of producing breakthrough public relations and marketing is often messy because you’re not following a tried and true path; you’re pioneering a new one.

    Requiring that the process of innovation be error-free crimps creativity and risk-taking. This, more than making mistakes, is what inhibits growth and innovation.

    3. Practice failing so you can succeed more quickly

    Professional dancers don’t view the process of working to improve their dancing as “succeeding” or “failing.” To them, it’s about continual improvement, practicing every day to be better dancers than they were the day before. 

    As our client, James Dyson, used to explain to the media when we launched his Dyson brand vacuum in the United States, it took him 15 years and 5,127 prototypes until he finally succeeded in inventing the DC01, the world’s first bag-less vacuum featuring cyclonic technology. Each of his 5,127 “failures” helped him, ultimately, to succeed.

    From ballroom dancing, I’ve learned not to view so-called “failure” as failure either. I’ve come to view failure as a stepping stone to success. The more quickly you learn from your failures, the more quickly you can succeed. 

    4. Partner for success

    Close partnering is critical to winning ballroom competitions. A couple must be able to quickly and wordlessly execute midcourse corrections to avoid collisions when navigating a crowded dance floor filled with competitors. 

    As the woman in ballroom dancing, my job is to be alert and responsive in following the lead of my male partner. Although I’m not the leader in our dance partnership, I’m as responsible for our success as he is.  As a female CEO used to leading in a business setting, it was difficult for me not to try to lead my partner on the dance floor.  Allowing my partner to lead was critical, too, because ballroom judges will penalize a couple if there is a power struggle between leader and follower on the dance floor.

    Since taking up ballroom dancing, I led my agency to win our biggest account by partnering with an outside marketing consultant. Moreover, I let him lead the account when we won it, which was something I had never done before with an outside consultant. One of my former partners astutely observed that had it not been for ballroom dancing, I could never have abdicated control in this way. He said the same thing when my partners and I decided to sell our New York City-based PR and marketing agency, PT&Co., to a Richmond, Va., firm, Carter Ryley Thomas. In so doing, I stepped down as CEO and agreed to follow the able leadership of Mark Raper as the leader of our very successful new agency, CRT/tanaka.

    Ballroom dancing taught me that being a strong and active collaborator and follower is not necessarily a bad thing. It can be a winning strategy! Our new agency, CRT/tanaka, is three times the size of my previous agency, offering clients enhanced capabilities and additional geographies in which we can support them.

    5. Visualize your goals as the first step toward achieving them

    Many professional ballroom dancers visualize themselves competing or performing brilliantly before they take to the dance floor. They “see” themselves executing every step and every figure (set of steps). They feel what it’s like to excite the crowds, and they hear the roar of the crowd before the competition has even begun.

    The ballroom world taught me that visualizing your dreams is the first step to realizing them. At CRT/tanaka, we’ve embraced "whatcanbe" as our brand vision, cultural ethos, and approach to business. Essentially, we believe that if you have a vision, it’s a simple matter of developing and implementing a plan of action to achieve that vision.

    I’ve taken that approach to guide my personal and business life, as well, by visualizing and setting an intention for every outcome I want to achieve, including how I want to comport myself with everyone I interact with during the day. I set the intention just before walking into the office each day – that my every interaction with everyone be enhancing and affirming. I also visualize and set an intention for the outcome of every meeting that I participate in and for every initiative I undertake.

    Patrice Tanaka is Co-Chair, Chief Creative Officer and whatcanbe Ambassador of CRT/tanaka, an award-winning, national PR & marketing agency headquartered in Richmond, Va. with offices in Norfolk, Va., New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.  Ms. Tanaka is also a competitive ballroom dancer and author of the book, “Becoming Ginger Rogers…How Ballroom Dancing Made Me a Happier Woman, Better Partner and Smarter CEO.”

    Website:  www.BecomingGingerRogers.com

    Facebook:  Becoming Ginger Rogers

    Twitter:  @BeGingerRogers