Defining Public Relations

Essay by mike2680A-, February 2008

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Public relations are an expression, which is 201 years old this year, having originally been used by Thomas Jefferson, the US president in 1807. Right through the path of time the description of Public Relations (PR) has modified itself for numerous uses. As such, there is no one set description for PR to date.

Definitions of Public RelationsEdward Bernays also known as the father of spin created one of the earliest definitions of PR. According to Edward Bernay: "The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people, or integrating people with people" (UNjobs, 2008). Another writer said that: "Public relations helps our complex, pluralistic society to reach decisions and function more effectively by contributing to mutual understanding among groups and institutions. It serves to bring private and public policies into harmony…. In helping to define and implement policy, the public relations practitioner uses a variety of professional communication skills and plays an integrative role both within the organization and between the organization and the external environment" (Public Relations Society of America, 2007).

"Public relations is about reputation - the result of what you do, what you say, and what others say about you. Public relations is the discipline, which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behavior. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics." (Chartered Institute of Public Relations, 2007).

Contrasting DefinitionsAs you can see by the three definitions above, each definition of Public Relations varies slightly depending upon the source. The first definition comes from a web sites power point. This definition explains why PR only relates to organizations. Being one of the first definitions...