Defining Public Relations

Essay by janetdufourUniversity, Bachelor'sA, August 2008

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There is no one true official definition of public relations by one entity. Public relations can be defined in many ways because society is ever-changing and ever-developing due to technologies. First there was the medium of radio to promote public relations, then there was television, and most recently the evolution of the internet. There have been many attempts to define public relations, and several hundred publicized definitions, three of which will be compared and contrasted.

The first definition comes from the book titled The Practice of Public Relations by Fraser P. Seitel. He states "public relations is a planned process to influence public opinion, through sound character and proper performance, based on mutually satisfactory two-waycommunication" (Seitel, 2004, p. 3). He relates public relations to a set of processes (research, action, communication, and evaluation) that must be followed effectively in order to maintain or influence the public's image of a company.

This definition touches on public relations being mutually beneficial for not only an organization, but also to society.

The second definition comes from the British Institute of Public Relations (IPR). They define public relations as being all about an organization's reputation. They define it as the "result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public Relations Practice is the discipline which looks after reputation with the aim of earning understanding and support, and influencing opinion and behaviour" (Newsom, Turk & Kruckeberg, 2004, p. 2). They refer to this as a form of "reputation management" where public relations is all about maintaining an organization's reputation with its publics but mention nothing about how to go about the process. Confronting a problem, being truthful about it and trying to solve it with sound judgment and ethics are what the IPR deems as the most important aspect...