Defining Public Relations

Essay by Fiesty001University, Bachelor's October 2006

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While the implementation of Public Relations is noted by Seitel (2004) to be coming up on its 100th birthday, public relations has clearly had a presence in humanity since the evolution of man (i.e., Maslow's hierarchy) (Seitel, 2004). Seitel notes the discovery of historic documentation from as early as 1800 B.C; from farmers in Iraq, prominent historic figures such as Julius Caesar to King George III; then to America with Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Richard Nixon; and not to exclude Phineas T. Barnum, of the infamous P.T. Barnum's traveling circus show (Seitel, 2004). Public relations methods are intended to evoke a response, to prompt an action by the recipients of the information, dependent on how the communication to or between people is conducted. Defining Public Relations has varied results depending on the intent of the communicators carrying their messages.


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."

(Seitel, 2004, What Is Public Relations, 1) Seitel (2004) further elaborates his definition:

"Public relations is a distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communications, understanding, acceptance, and cooperation between an organization and its publics; involves the management of problems or issues; helps management to keep informed on and responsive to public opinion; defines and emphasizes the responsibility of management to serve the public interest; helps management keep abreast of and effectively utilize change, serving as an early warning system to help anticipate trends; and uses research and sound and ethical communication techniques as its principal tools." (Seitel, 2004, What Is Public Relations, 5)

Seitel documented Edward Bernays' definition for his use of public relations (or counsel) as "information given to the public, persuasion directed at the public...