Public relations (PR) is the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organization leaders, and implementing planned programs of action which will serve both the organization's and the public interest. By stating that PR practice is an art implies the element of specialized skill, knowledge and methods involved. It also implies that PR practice is not completely objective, as there are subjective factors involved. PR practice deals with the human element, which is by nature unpredictable; therefore not completely objective. PR practice also considers the inputs which social sciences (e.g. psychology, sociology, anthropology, and statistics) can contribute. For example, a PR practitioner would have to consider cultural factors when planning a program or campaign for its targeted publics so that there would be less risk of unintentionally offending other segments of the society.
Public relations is also internal and external communication to inform or influence specific publics using writing, marketing, advertising, publicity, promotions, and special events.
Some public relations specialists work as full-time employees of companies, politicians, nonprofit organizations, or governments; while others work for PR agencies or as free-lance PR consultants that contract their services to clients (usually corporations, wealthy individuals or other special interests) who pay for their expertise at keeping them in or out of the spotlight, whichever is necessary.
According to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), one of the profession's leading trade associations, public relations "has been defined in many widely differing ways. Not unsurprisingly, the earliest definitions emphasized the roles of press agentry and publicity since these were major elements from which modern public relations grew." More recently, the PR industry has pushed to redefine itself as a management function.
From a more critical perspective, public relations is sometimes also referred to as the manufacturing of consent. The practice...