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Public relations (PR) is the business, organizational, philanthropic, or social function of managing communication between an organization and its audiences. There are many goals to be achieved by the practice of public relations, including education, correcting a mistruth, or building or improving an image.

Definition

The term Public Relations was first coined by the US President Thomas Jefferson. He used the term during his address to the Congress in 1807.
One of the earliest definitions of PR was coined by Edward Bernays. According to him, "Public Relations is a management function which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures and interest of an organization followed by executing a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. "
According to two American PR professionals Scott M. Cutlips and Allen H. Center, "PR is a planned effort to influence opinion through good character and responsible performance based upon mutual satisfactory two-way communication".
Public relations is the art and science of managing communication between an organization and its key constituents to build, manage, and sustain its positive image.
Public relations is the process of aligning the perceptions of targeted audiences (or publics) with the current realities and reasonable prospects of another entity.
Public relations is about building public relationships.

Public relations involves:

- Evaluation of public attitudes and opinions.
- Formulation and implementation of an organization's procedures and policy regarding communication with its publics.
- Coordination of communications programs.
- Developing rapport and good-will through a two way communication process.
- Fostering a positive relationship between an organization and its public constituents.

Examples include:

- Corporations use marketing public relations (MPR) to convey information about the products they manufacture or services they provide to potential customers to support their direct sales efforts. Typically, they support sales in the short and long term, establishing and burnishing the corporation's branding for a strong, ongoing market.

- Corporations also use public-relations as a vehicle to reach legislators and other politicians, seeking favorable tax, regulatory, and other treatment, and they may use public relations to portray themselves as enlightened employers, in support of human-resources recruiting programs.

- Non-profit organizations, including schools and universities, hospitals, and human and social service agencies, use public relations in support of awareness programs, fund-raising programs, staff recruiting, and to increase patronage of their services.

- Politicians use public relations to attract votes and raise money, and, when successful at the ballot box, to promote and defend their service in office, with an eye to the next election or, at career?s end, to their legacy.

PR has had many definitions over the years and since its early boom days of the 1980s has almost entirely redefined itself. This is probably because most clients these days are far too media-savvy to think that fluffy ideas and champagne parties constitute a good media service (of course this is a good thing, but we do still like a good champagne party).
PR these days is often misunderstood, and it's probably the fault of the PR industry itself that most people aren't sure where PR is supposed to stop and marketing, advertising, branding and all the other media services begin.
Put very simply, good PR encourages the media (newspapers, magazines, TV and radio) to say good things about your product/service or whatever it is that you want to promote so that more people buy your product/use your services/think you're great.
Of course, most PR companies have a team that will come from a mixture of media backgrounds and may be able to offer all sorts of PR-related services such as branding, marketing, copywriting and advertising. That can make defining pure PR all the more confusing for the client.

The industry today

Modern public relations uses a variety of techniques including opinion polling and focus groups to evaluate public opinion, combined with a variety of high-tech techniques for distributing information on behalf of their clients, including satellite feeds, the Internet, broadcast faxes, and database-driven phone banks to recruit supporters for a client's cause. According to the PRSA,
"Examples of the knowledge that may be required in the professional practice of public relations include communication arts, psychology, social psychology, sociology, political science, economics, and the principles of management and ethics. Technical knowledge and skills are required for opinion research, public issues analysis, media relations, direct mail, institutional advertising, publications, film/video productions, special events, speeches, and presentations."
Although public relations professionals are stereotypically seen as corporate servants, the reality is that almost any organization that has a stake in how it is portrayed in the public arena employs at least one PR manager. Large organizations may even have dedicated communications departments. Government agencies, trade associations, and other non-profit organizations commonly carry out PR activities.
Public relations should be seen as a management function in any organization. An effective communication, or public relations, plan for an organization is developed to communicate to an audience (whether internal or external publics) in such a way the message coincides with organizational goals and seeks to benefit mutual interests whenever possible.

Audience targeting

A fundamental technique used in public relations is to identify the target audience, and to tailor every message to appeal to that audience. It can be a general, nationwide or worldwide audience, but it is more often a segment of a population. Marketers often refer to economy-driven "demographics," such as "white males 18-49," but in public relations an audience is more fluid, being whoever someone wants to reach. For example, recent political audiences include "soccer moms" and "NASCAR dads."

In addition to audiences, there are usually stakeholders, literally people who have a "stake" in a given issue. All audiences are stakeholders (or presumptive stakeholders), but not all stakeholders are audiences. For example, a charity commissions a PR agency to create an advertising campaign to raise money to find a cure for a disease. The charity and the people with the disease are stakeholders, but the audience is anyone who is likely to donate money.

Sometimes the interests of differing audiences and stakeholders common to a PR effort necessitate the creation of several distinct but still complementary messages. This is not always easy to do, and sometimes – especially in politics – a spokesperson or client says something to one audience that angers another audience or group of stakeholders.

 

Links to Related Articles:

- Why is good customer service just as important as price when choosing a new promotional products vendor?
- What is the job of a Printing Salesman?

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This is an extract from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia



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