PR Word of the Week #19: Public Relations

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) asked the public relations community to define “public relations”. So what better word to define this week on this week’s PR Word of the Week.

I am not the only one that has been defining public relations this week, Joseph Thornley, Martin Waxman and Gini Dietrich discussed various definitions last week on Inside PR 2.79.

When I was in school, in the public relations program at Algonquin College, we were given a definition for public relations that has always stuck with me. It is vague enough to encompass all types of PR and communications and it was easy enough to understand for those not in our industry.

Public relations

(ˈpəblik riˈlāSHənz)

Pubic relations is the two way communication between an organization and its audience.

An organization can be a bank, a not-for-profit, an agency communicating with consumers, donors, journalists and clients. This can also include upper management communicating with their audience: employees.

The important word to note in my definition is “two-way” communication. It an important asset to remember when writing up strategies for communicating and connecting with our audience. Long gone are the days of pushing out key messages through advertising and one-way communication. Long gone are the dishonest and secretive companies trying to hide or take advantage of their audience. If your company bases its existance on dishonesty and secrecy you will not last long. Consumers are much smarter today. We don’t just buy anything anymore. We want to know who we are buying from, where it is from and the ethics behind its creation or production, which is why as a responsible organization we must ask our audience their input and opinion on our business practices, services and products.

Our audience is a powerful thing. There are countless examples of audiences changing the set course of a company’s product or service.

Not to mention crowds gathering online and in real life to change the course of another type of organization: government.

  1. Egypt and Mubarak
  2. Lybia and Gaddafi
  3. Occupy Wall Street

What do you think of my definition of PR? Have I missed something? Do you have a suggestion for a different definition of public relations? I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comments and opinions by leaving me a comment below.

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