So what is Public Relations anyway?
At this point in time, I’m not even quite sure myself (Hence being enrolled in CAP 220!). If I had to give a guess I would flounder with words for a while and probably come up with something like the verbal promotion of a company, business, product or service; or something along the lines of communication to mass amounts of people. I think of bad things happening to a company and needing someone to deal with the press and finding a way to continue to have a good image in the public’s mind. In my head, all I can picture is a business person telling a group of people how sorry they are for their losses after a plane crash or something of that nature, nothing too happy or upbeat; but as I stated before, I’m not too sure any of this is true.
Apparently I’m not the only one who’s a little confused on this; according to Benedict Morais of the New Straits Times, ” MANY people have a vague idea of what the term public relations means. Some mistakenly think that PR is a “cosmetic wall” that one hastily erects when in trouble. Others see it as a “magic wand” that one waves about when faced with crisis situations” (Morais 1996). So, I guess most people are in the same boat as me when it comes to being able to define exactly what public relations means, they are unable to. They, like me, think that public relations is mostly crisis management.
According to The Public Relations Society of America,” public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” (PRSA 2014). So, nothing at all like what I was thinking. From this definition, it seems that public relations is more mutual, not just one person giving speeches to people who don’t care, the public helps to bring together companies and individuals. Also this definition seems that public relations is more of an open line of communication between business and consumer, if one speaks the other listens.
Benedict Morais of the New Straits Times, goes on to say that people who go into public relations have the misconception that they will simply be “wining and dining and meeting interesting people” (Morais 1996). I too had this misconception and I think that’s why it didn’t fall into my top interests. I have no desire to sit through boring business dinners, but looking back on the definition provided by The PRSA, public relations is so much more than that. Its not just working with the CEO of a company doing boring things to make him money, its working to create an image of a company in the mind of the masses (which seems way more interesting).
Another article from the Revista del Instituto de Ciencias Sociales (Magazine from the Institute of Social Sciences) states that the key factors to make communications and public relations effective are “exposure, perception, retention, and decision” (Francisco 1967). I think this is key in understanding the fundamentals of public relations and also very similar to what I learned in my advertising class. A company needs exposure so the masses have knowledge of them, they must be positively perceived to do well, the people must remember or retain their messages, and decide to stay with a company. All of this will occur if public relations efforts for a brand are successful, at least that’s what I believe to be true.
Overall, public relations is such a wide field that I see why so many people, including myself, have wrong ideas about what it actually is.
Francisco, S. (1967, March). Communication and public relations. Revista del Instituto de Ciencias Sociales. Retrieved from < http://gvsu.summon.serialssolutions.com/search?>.
Morais, B. (1996, April 21). What is public relations?. The New Straits Times. Retrieved from ProQuest < http://search.proquest.com/docview/269074875?accountid=39473>.
Public Relations Society of America. (2014). What is public relations?. Retrieved from <http://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/publicrelationsdefined/#.VAu3hfldWKI>.