This is my fifth year studying public relations. Four years at the University of Florida and now my first year as a Master’s student at the University of Tennessee. Every year a professor has asked the class to define the term “public relations”. I believe I have given a different answer each year. It is not because I don’t know what public relations is (gosh that would be horrible to study something and not know what it means after five years), it’s that public relations encompasses numerous aspects of the field of communications and it is hard to define the term in one simple sentence. By the way….for those who think public relations is just press releases, you need to climb out from under the rock and smell the roses.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) is in the midst of redefining the term public relations to unite the industry and help others understand what it is we (pubic relations practitioners) really do. PRSA has been updating the progress of their campaign by using Twitter and the hashtag to follow is: #PRDefined.
There are three potential definitions that PRSA is proposing:
1. Public relations is the management function of researching, engaging, communicating, and collaborating with stakeholders in an ethical manner to build mutually beneficial relationships and achieve results.
2. Public relations is a strategic communication process that develops and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their key publics.
3. Public relations is the engagement between organizations and individuals to achieve mutual understanding and realize strategic goals.
For the full story on these definitions, click here!
I like the first definition but I wish it had the words “strategic communication”. My ideal definition would go something like this: “Public relations is strategic communication that involves research, engagement, communication and collaboration with stakeholders in an ethical manner to build mutually beneficial relationships and achieve results.” Strategy is important to understand as a public relations practitioner. I would hope so anyway after having to take two classes named “PR Strategies”.
What do you think of these definitions? Is it time that we “defined” public relations?