After 66 years working in public relations, Tim Traverse-Healy has written a document setting out his professional beliefs and views on the industry.
It is fascinating reading, and Stephen Waddington has posted the whole thing on his blog.
I was most taken with Traverse-Healey’s view that while securing media coverage, communicating and persuading are a big part of what we do, they don’t, on their own, add up to public relations.
Traverse-Healy thinks that for something to be considered public relations, it also has to have three extra ingredients:
- Paramount concern for the public good
- Genuine dialogue
I agree with him and think these are things that all of us working in public relations today would do well to remember.
Telling the truth is, I think, a given. And genuine dialogue is something that might not happen all the time, but with the advent of social media it is certainly the way things are going.
But concern for the public good?
This was fundamental to the approach of British public relations pioneers like Basil Clarke and Stephen Tallents. They, like Traverse-Healy, saw themselves as part of a movement that is trying to make society better.
I wonder how many of today’s public relations practioners think of themselves in this way.
That’s why it’s important that we champion this focus on public good and celebrate our industry’s proud history. Above, all, we need to keep making the case that we are more than just a gun for hire. As Traverse-Healy does in his document, “the argument we are like lawyers available to either defend or prosecute is untenable”.
H/T Tom Watson