American professional societies have a responsibility to facilitate and support their members in serving the public interest. The latest excellent example: The Public Relations Society of America’s just-launched “Voices4Everyone” advocacy initiative.
Its rationale: ” As strategy-focused communication experts committed to building mutual understanding, credibility and relationships among a wide array of institutions and audiences, while also advancing the free flow of accurate and truthful information, public relations professionals have a special obligation. We must serve the public interest …”
New “on-the-ground” action: “Leveraging expertise, creativity, and the collective voice of the profession, Voices4Everyone is a forum for improving the abilities of our public relations community and those we serve … [It] supports a national conversation building mutual understanding, trust, and civic engagement through more inclusive civil discourse…”
“Voices” facilitates public service action by members, chapters, and the society’s other components: “PRSA resources have been created and curated by PRSA members, designed to provide expertise and perspectives to share with your team, your clients and your communities.”
The “Voices” forum is built on four contiguous “pillars” . Excerpts from the “Voices” informative and motivating website pages “Voices4Everyone” :
“Media literacy programs have proven effective at improving the ability to identify misinformation online, more accurately judge the veracity of news headlines and motivating participants to verify news stories using online research.
“Taking a media literacy program will help participants and our communities build immunity to online deception and help slow the spread and mitigate the impact of disinformation. The training is yet another tool in developing ‘mental antibodies’ and cognitive muscles in the defense against disinformation.”
Diversity and Inclusion
“As communicators, our impact is far reaching and goes well beyond our industry.
“Our voices are critical in bringing about change and leading essential conversations on diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism. As we combat the lack of diversity, equity, and inclusion in our industry, we want to empower you with the tools and resources you need to begin your journey of self-discovery, become aware of your biases, learn how to have difficult conversations with colleagues and become an ally advocating for your fellow communicators … Through Diverse Dialogues, we bring together leaders and experts in Diversity and Inclusion to share insights and best practices to guide communications professionals in having critical conversations to enable real change.”
“We hope our tools and resources allow you to become a more aware, effective and inclusive communications professional.”
[Events in Atlanta and Washington D.C. last week have made these commitments even more timely.]
“The time is now, the need is great, and the opportunity for PR professionals to dedicate our collective insight, expertise, platforms, and leadership roles toward turning the tides of incivility and restoring quality, integrity and inclusiveness to public discourse is in our hands. Start by reading the Civility Task Force White Paper on Modeling Civility and then explore how you can take action to model civility and improve civil discourse.”
(“Voices” is promoting, and – with resources and members’ interchanges – supporting a spectrum of civic engagement initiatives. Examples:)
“. Aid underrepresented voices in speaking effectively about key issues by developing messaging, securing media opportunities.
. Provide consulting support to small nonprofits and civic organizations in need of public relations and communications guidance.
. Develop media campaigns and grassroots narratives encouraging a commitment to our democracy and one another.
. Partner with civic educators to help youth and young adults understand the value of civic learning experiences, volunteering and pursuing a public service career.
. Craft messages to help local, state and federal government agencies communicate important details about key issues, policies, and programs.”
The Public Relations Society of America’s “Voices4Everyone” advocacy initiative is, of course, tailored for the the public relations profession.
However, it may also serve as a model for other American professional societies.
The Public Relations Society of America is a nonprofit trade association of public relations professionals founded in 1947. Headquartered in New York City, it has a membership of 30,000 practitioners, educators, and students in the United States and abroad. It is a founding member of The Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management .