Wednesday, July 04, 2007

July 4th

While enjoying today’s stunning Seattle weather it struck me that there’s a link between what we do every day and the annual celebration of America's independence. We’re communicators, after all, and open communication is a prerequisite for democracy.

I also got to thinking how the rapid changes in technology during the last few decades have profoundly impacted (and continue to impact) the cacophony of voices in our pluralistic society in new and unanticipated ways. It’s not an exaggeration to say that today virtually anyone with a PC can enter the public debate regardless of credentials or motives, with potentially immediate and global reach.

This makes our job as PR practitioners more important to society, not less. It also underscores the importance of maintaining high standards of professional conduct and a commitment to advocacy, honesty, expertise and independence as represented in the PRSA Member Statement of Professional Values.

By upholding these values we contribute to the dialog and facilitate the communication needed to foster understanding and awareness across a range of diverse issues. For those of us who work in government, the role is even more direct and visible: helping serve the interests of the citizens and communities we represent.

OK, I know it’s not this simple. Lots of people don’t agree, and many see PR practitioners as little more than spinmeisters and snake oil salesmen. And, yes, there are some. But the vast majority of us adhere to these values in our everyday work because we know it’s the right thing to do – for our employers, our clients, our profession, our community, and ourselves.

At the end of the day, public relations practiced well, with integrity, fosters the mutual understanding that strengthens society and allows pluralism to flourish and democracy to thrive. As Thomas Jefferson said, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government.”

Happy 231st Birthday, America!

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