Public relations? What is that?

Truth is, a lot of people don’t really understand exactly what public relations (PR) is; in fact, I’m still working on figuring it out myself. One thing I do know, though, is that there are a lot of misconceptions out there. As a result, professionals have tried over and over again to debunk the different myths about PR. For a list of some of these myths, see Richard Edelman’s article, “PR Profiling.” The real question is, after 32 years in the business, why does Edelman feel obligated to defend himself and PR as a whole?

Oftentimes, people think of PR as an unethical field devoted to controlling the minds of the impressionable, general public by using disingenuous, deceptive, and/or highly manipulative tactics. In his article, “PR prof: It’s ironic to read journalists complain about PR,” Tim Penning emphasizes the importance in recognizing that misinforming the public is not at all the standard and accepted practice. Instead, PR positively contributes to the fundamental goals of democracy by informing people before they make important decisions.

So, now that I’ve helped you form  a general idea for everything PR is not, what the heck is it? Well, here’s what I’ve learned so far. PR is:

  • a process
  • deliberate
  • planned
  • performance based
  • concerned with public interest
  • 2-way communication
  • part of strategic management
Furthermore, successful and effective PR involves research, action, communication, and evaluation (R.A.C.E). It is concerned with publics (groups of individuals) and aims to identify, establish, and maintain beneficial relationships between these publics. By these standards, PR isn’t all that bad, right? If you’re still a little confused, here’s a video I found that might help: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Video/477.aspx.
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