The "PR People" ensured cars had polish and on the hood sat a beauty queen. The perception of public relations per se hasn't changed much since. That's even though a crisis counselor can earn $1000 hourly. And unlike so many other fields, it's on a growth trajectory.
Obviously, the term "public relations" should have been deep-sixed decades ago. Now, thought leaders such as Jack O'Dwyer are pushing that mission. Here is Jack's op-ed today about exploring terminology that does two things.
One, it eliminates any sense of stigma. Even the term "communications" would be fine. Simple words can be workhorse ones.
Two, it captures how multi-faceted the industry has become. Recently, Jack's firm J.R. O'Dwyer published a 66-page print glossy on just the healthcare segment. Articles highlight major developments in that niche such as inbound marketing. Next there will a print glossy focused on technology. The emerging expert is figuring out content and placement via deep dives into data and then connecting the dots through analytics.
My hunch is that "communications" will push aside "public relations," without a lot of fanfare. Sure, there will be the wordsmiths who will play around. They will post on their websites that they make "meaningful conversations happen" or position and package "your re-branding." But, in essence, we will all be in the business of communications.