Definition of Public Relations (PR)

What is public relations (PR)?

Public relations (PR) is the set of techniques and strategies related to managing how information about an individual or company is disseminated to the public, and especially to the media. Its main objectives are to spread news or important events of the company, maintain a brand image and put a positive spin on negative events to minimize their consequences. Public relations can occur in the form of a company press release, a press conference, interviews with journalists, posts on social media, or other venues.

Every individual or entity operating in public view is faced with the dissemination of information about them or their practices to the public. While public relations is an industry unto itself, any attempt to present yourself in a certain way to others can be considered a form of public relations.

Key takeaways

  • Public relations (PR) refers to managing how others see and feel about a person, brand or company.
  • Public relations for corporations, particularly publicly traded companies, focuses on maintaining a positive corporate image while handling media requests and shareholder inquiries.
  • Public relations is especially important to defray public or investor protests following negative news announcements.
  • Public relations is different from advertising or marketing in that it is often meant to appear organic.

Understanding public relations

Although not inherent in the definition, public relations is often thought of as a “twist”, with the goal of presenting the person, company or brand in the best possible light. Public relations differs from advertising in that public relations attempts to portray the image of a person or brand in ways that will appear organic, such as generating good press from independent sources and recommending business decisions that will generate public support. Public relations, loosely defined until the mid-20th century, is one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

Public relations are essential to the success of any business, especially when the company’s stock is publicly traded and the value of a stock depends on the public’s trust in a company or brand. In addition to handling media requests, information inquiries, and shareholder concerns, public relations personnel are frequently responsible for creating and maintaining the corporate image. Occasionally, public relations professionals engage in negative public relations or deliberate attempts to discredit a rival brand or company, although such practices do not conform to the industry code of ethics.

Many public companies have a separate Investor Relations (IR) department to handle communications with shareholders and analysts.

Public relations in practice

Public relations also involves managing a company’s reputation in the eyes of its clients. In a 2012 public relations crisis, the Chick-fil-A restaurant chain was forced to issue emergency statements regarding its stance on same-sex marriage after a Chick-fil-A executive publicly speak out against equal marriage. The statement emphasized the company’s “biblical principles” and its belief in treating “each person with honor, dignity and respect.” It was an example of how companies should exercise good public relations. Most major companies have a public relations department or use the services of an outside company.

A company often has multiple audiences to impress. Internally, a company will want to present itself as competently operated to its investors and major shareholders, which may involve organizing product demonstrations or other events geared towards shareholders.

Externally, a business that sells a good or service directly to consumers will want to present a public image that fosters genuine and enduring brand support that extends beyond the somewhat misleading goals of advertising.

This may involve reassuring customers during a crisis, such as when Target (TGT) offered an $ 18.5 million settlement to its customers following a credit card hack in 2013 in an attempt to restore good faith or promotion. of a lifestyle that would make the company’s product or service attractive. The company also generates public relations to attract investors. In this regard, good public relations are especially important for startups or rapidly expanding companies.

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Mark Holland

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