Defining Public Relations (PR) is very difficult and has been a source of confusion between scholars and public relations practitioners alike. Public Relations deal with an extensive variety of methods and attitudes; therefore, not easily defined. Different individuals have different perceptions of what public relations are so the term public relations can be misunderstood or intentionally misinterpreted. This paper will define public relations from three different sources, as well as a personal definition. These definitions will than be compared and contrasted towards what public relations do and how it is a necessary component for a variety of organizations in the 21st century.
Research Findings of Public Relations Definition
Public Relations has been around for less than 100 years but in that brief time, there have been many definitions. According to Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), ". . . the earliest definitions emphasized the roles of press agentry and publicity since these were major elements from which modern public relations grew" (p.
1). As public relations became more important for organizations to become successful and reach goals, various definitions began to surface.
The first definition from Fraser P. Seitel (2004) defines Public Relations as, ". . . a planned process to influence public opinion, through sound character and proper performance, based on mutually satisfactory two-way communication" (p. 10). The second definition from PRSA (nd) has several definitions defined of what PR is, one definition states, "the need for research prior to initiating actions, careful planning and thorough evaluation or measurement of results" (p. 1). Lastly, the third definition from About.com (nd) defines public relations as, "A variety of activities engaged in by organizations and celebrities that are intended to promote a positive relationship or image with their customers and prospective customers" (p. 1).
Personal Definition of Public Relations