When discussing public relations or strategic communications, the word “engagement” comes up a lot. It is always interesting to hear what engagement means to a communications professional. It can mean different things to different people, including consultation, education, participation, active discussion and more. Quite often, it is spoken about in hushed tones and feels like the “holy grail” for communications professionals, which it can be – especially in this day and age of online connection through social media…

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I had the opportunity to speak to communications students at Capilano University earlier this week. They are smart, engaged and are going to bring some great, new energy to the PR world. Connecting with students always inspires me, it makes me realize how fortunate I am to work in PR and it reminds me how valuable PR is to an organization.

There are many, many functions of PR. At the foundation, we help our clients to build positive relationships with their “publics.” (You can replace the word publics with the noun that works for you: stakeholders, audience, target market, employees, government, media, community—the list goes on and on.)

One of the questions that came up when I was speaking to the students was around engagement and the best way to approach it. That depends on the community and the organization’s objectives, but it brought home the fact that PR is about engagement and that you don’t engage by just putting up a Facebook page or opening a Twitter account.

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