Here’s what I’ve developed:
How would you add to or change this one?
[...] of my text book, Public Relations: A Values-Driven Approach, and several other websites such as PR Sarah Evans site I have decided on a definition that I agree with it. Public relations is the constant [...]
This is not my own definition, but I have heard public relations defined as “doing good and telling about it.”
Public relations is a conversation with your publics (customers, competition, government, etc) which builds a sustainable relationship that results in change of thought or action.
That should be the textbook definition of PR. Just check out the terrible Wikipedia definition. “Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.”
Defining public relations… not an easy task! I really like that yor definition focuses on creating a conversation and sustainable relationships. According to PRSA, the essential functions of public relations include research, planning, communications dialogue and evaluation. What do yo think of this minor modification?
Public relations is an ongoing strategic and measurable effort to create a conversation which builds sustainable relationships between an entity and its public resulting in change, action, influence or reptation management.
Public Relations is a lot like technology these days. It means different things to people based on needs, experience and knowledge. My favorite interview question is, “what is the difference between PR and advertising?” Nobody candidate has come close yet. Simply put, public relations is an uncontrolled message. Advertising is a controlled message. In advertising you control who, what, when, where and how. We don’t control whether our message is on the front page or the seventh page or covered on the radio, internet or television. We can’t control how the media uses our message. We can only influence the destiny of our messages.
That’s not really a definition, but it needs to be part of the definition. No matter how good the PR message is, it’s not controlled. The media or public controls the message. It’s what makes PR so challenging and inspires me to get up in the morning.
Like Valerie, I like that you included sustainable relationships. I also appreciate that you include the part about spurring change, action or influence. That’s far too often overlooked (and part of the reason why naysayers question the value of PR).
I’m intrigued by the word conversation. Obviously, that’s a HUGE part of what we all do each day. But, I wonder if it’s too narrow to fully encompass PR? Sometimes we’re doing things to shape perception — and that may not include creating a conversation. For example, in crisis communication or community relations, it’s not always about the dialogue — sometimes it’s just about perception management or raising awareness. Often in crisis situations, it’s about containing a story and protecting a brand. Sometimes conversation is a valuable part of the strategy, but I can also think of some examples where ongoing dialogues weren’t the right answer for the situation.
I don’t know what the exact word is yet, but you’ve got me thinking.
Heather and Valerie – You’ve got me thinking, too. It looks like we’re on the right track with the idea of conversation, but perhaps not the right word? Obviously this doesn’t have to be the “official definition of PR,” but it’s nice to update how we describe what it is we do.
It’s really interesting find more about PR in other countries. I’m majoring in PR here in Brazil, and a can realize how different the concept of this profession is. Here in Brazil, we have strategy in focus when we talk about PR. Maybe because we have a hard job market… trying to get a place to increase our career. There’s a serious dicussion between PR and Journalism here. By the way my definition is probably: strategic relationships. God Job, Sarah.
Sarah, this is a good definition, although I do agree with Heather, the word “conversation” is a little narrow. Perhaps this could be replaced with “two-way communication.” Then it would include non-verbal/visual communication also.
I always fall back on a tried-and-truism from a college professor: “PR is 90% doing the right thing and 10% telling people about it.”
I like the definition, but I would say “its publicS”.
We could certainly go back and forth on the specifics of this definition but I think you’ve done a great job of definining PR. Personally, I don’t think conversation is too narrow as it puts a little personality into the definition vs. 2-way communication which sounds a bit like jargon:). What I find to me most interesting about defining PR is where does it fall in the corporate structure and does PR support social media? Personally I’m finding that PR is such a broad reaching (& supporting) function across the corporation. I suppose this is a separate blog post:). Nice work!
Great comment, Matt. We should work on a post about that very issue: Where does/should PR fall in the corporate structure.
Sarah: I think your definition is great for PR people and communications PROs. It is really succinct, but I wish there was room to include something about accomplishing organizational goals. “Resulting in change, action or influence” is great if it can be measured in a way that shows that PR can impact the bottom line (whether it is cash or passed legislation etc.)
If we are going to continue to sell PR to business executives (especially sales executives), we need to reinforce the notion that PR is a pivotal part of the marketing arsenal.
So here is my shot albeit a bit wordy. Feel free to edit.
PR is the practice of leading and participating in conversations to solve problems, create opportunities and accomplish organizational goals.
For an historical perspective, in the 1971 edition of Cutlip and Center’s Effective Public Relations, they quote the British Institute of Public Relations definition to include, “The deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.” The idea of sustainability is important, but not new in public relations. But, I concur that it’s important and should be a part of any definition. My question is whether the term “conversation” is too narrowly defined by many to include all the functions of public relations?
Your definition is good and I like “ongoing” and “sustainable.” PR is about Communication, which is listening, sharing, acting & reacting, researching, responding, changing and conversing with multiple audiences.
I really like the “resulting in” part of the definition. Public Relations is also the business function of communicating with an entity’s audiences. Its purpose is to help further its business goals by establishing and furthering relations with audiences that promote positive changes on behalf of the entity. Public Relations has a job to do, deliver results.
Great definition Sarah and I echo many sentiments in saying that “sustainable” is very fitting for any definition of good public relations. We can only reach the bottom line through sustainable, and I’ll add multi-layered, communications efforts.
I’m also a huge proponent of the “mutually beneficial relationships” jargon that is used in many PR circles today, because I think that is implies that PR creates relationships that people (publics) want to have with brands. If we fail in creating a mutually beneficial relationship, then we’ve failed to create a sustainable one.
Nice food for thought Sarah!
This is how I define public relations:
Public relations is building relationships with people, no matter how much grunt work is involved, in the hopes of calling upon them to show the world all the reasons they should support your client.
This relationship building involves everything from updating your 4000+ contact list every year for Christmas cards, sending “wow, that article you wrote that was completely unrelated to my client was great!” letters to important journalists or writing a press release you know isn’t going to get published just to make your client happy.
I love every minute of it.
I really like Sara’s definition. I fear the “doing the right thing and talking about it” definition is what gets us the spin criticism — particularly when its not clear to the stakeholders that we are doing the right thing. Conversations or two-way communications seems to better define what we all strive to do everyday. As corporate clients get into trouble or need our help to develop or encourage this “two-way communication” or conversation.
Difference between advertising and PR: Ads you pay for. PR you beg for.
My definition of public relations, is simple… it is a communication barrier, which is used to influence the public to change their attitudes and opinions in the interest of promoting a person, product, or idea.
A co-worker was trying to explain to a client what exactly public relations professionals did. Finally, they asked “are you my people?” and I thought that was a great way of summing up what we do for them. Yes, we are your “people”
I’d swap conversation for open dialogue
Good tips and thanks for sharing the informative info..According to me public relations is very important for any people because we are the part of a large social community
My business prints HOA magazines and I am looking to expand my business. Is there a website that I can find many Public Relations Managers from all over Florida? I have quite a few in Orlando, but I’m looking for more in Central Florida and surrounding areas. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
I like the definition; however, think the word “public” is imprecise. Is the conversation between an entity and “public,” or “their audience,” or “past customers,” or “specified audience.” A better definition of with whom the conversation is held would be useful.
That’s definition 501 (Prof. Rex Harlow said there were more than 500 back in the 1990s). PR is anything you want it to be.
Public Relations,definition(making the internal&external negotions)that is in organisation&its publics.
PR- doing all to all love you
Public Relations – the key to success.
Public relation is an important element which is builds relationships with auditions. I learnt many new definitions of PR for this post.
Can you cite a hypothetical public relations situation which could be created by information on the internet and which could become a problem for those who are involved in the situation, taking care to note the potential consequences?
I think that’s a pretty good basic definition, in reality PR is so wide spread and in depth that I don’t think you can summarize it in just a few lines.
I think because of the intrinsic relationship between PR & journalism the definition of of PR is bound to morph into something new right alongside it’s journalistic counterpart. Because of the decline in “old media” and the rapid advancement of Web 2.0 technologies, social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace, & LinkedIn journalists are honing their craft to adapt to these technologies.
As story tellers in the public relations field we have to adapt as well or risk falling behind the curve. If we want to reach out and tell our clients story through media outlets we must not only understand our audience but the vehicles they use to get news and information as well.
Hi, i find here a good definition of public relations.Thanks for sharing this …..
Public relations campaign is a systematic effort of a given individual, organizational entity or government organization utilizing all forms of media to inform, educate and communicate to the general public on itself or issues surrounding itself with the intent to make itself more credible, understandable and favorable in the view of the others.
Public relations is at its heart breaking down the walls and barriers that seperate companies and the public leting them “relate” and becomeing relateable vs a corporate image of cold steel. In todays media world lets just call it “being human”
I think that’s a very good basic definition, in reality PR is so wide spread and in depth that I don’t think you can summarize it in just a few lines.