Defining Public Relations

Essay by salthurmondUniversity, Bachelor'sA, April 2007

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When it comes to public relations there is no one definition, as people and groups vary in their understandings of the subject. A personal definition of public relations would be the duty of communicating with external offices for purposes that mainly relate to information and information exchange. It would require working with other people most of the time and may also be closely involved in selling products or services. This personal definition is based on a certain degree of experience, and the understanding is that for the most part, public relations are an important part of an overall job responsibility.

If public relations were to be defined based on experience, certainly the definitions would vary from person to person. Then perhaps, the broader the experience, the more comprehensive a personal explanation may become. James Grunig sums up his extensive experience in his speech during the 45th Distinguished Lecture of the Institute for Public Relations (IPR).

Although he says his instinctive response to the question is a non-technical “what public relations people do”, he formally defines public relations as a function implemented by the management department of an organization that allows influential parties to be heard in that organization. These parties are affected by the organization in a positive or negative way, and through public relations, they have a say in making decisions that affect them. In turn, the organization becomes more socially responsible (Grunig, 2006).

The definition of public relations varies among different groups as well, but instead of looking at public relations from experience, these groups tend to view it from a more functional point of view. The official statement adopted by the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) basically perceives public relations as an important tool in the achievement of goals and implementation of policies. It says...