Who, What, Where, and Why Public Relations

Public Relations is known to have multiple definitions. In fact, many people have no idea what public relations even is. Without studying the term or the subject at all I always thought of PR as the people who are the mouth for a company. They make big announcements or explain situations a single client or company may be in, whether it be good or bad. As an outsider, that is often the only public relations that you see, therefore, that’s all it really is. However the more I read and think about the true definition of PR, I see it as something that is growing into a career field that is more important for companies to understand and work with. Public relations goes hand in hand with advertising and marketing which can often times be confusing to understand. Further more, PR is all about the relationship between two parties. Many companies or clients may fail at their goals at becoming successful if there is no relationship between them and their target audience.

Dick Martin wrote an article explaining some of his experiences while he ran the PR department at AT&T. He explains how those in public relations need to be a part of the business more because CEOs are often focused on what just happens in the board room,

“They need the counsel of someone who understands their business as well as the people running it, but isn’t held hostage to short-term goals such as meeting quarterly earnings. Someone who can provide peripheral vision based on a deep understanding of the world outside the boardroom walls. Someone who can anticipate problems before they arise and help senior executives deal with them squarely balancing the interests of all the people who contribute to their company’s success and bear the risks of its failures” (2013, p. 71).

Instead of looking at public relations as the people to go to in a time of crisis, it should be part of the business planning. Those who work in PR for a company can execute their job better if they have a better understanding of what the company is doing and what it truly stands for.

Public relations is regularly paired with advertising and marketing yet all three are completely different from one another. They all have different goals when it comes to planning and seeing results for a client. In an online article comparing PR and advertising the definition for public relations become more clear,

“Just like advertising, PR often helps increase the sales as well and may include elements of marketing. However, it is mainly focused in creating positive publicity about a particular company, organization or individual and maintain a good reputation in the public”.

The article goes on to  describes why PR must keep a relationship between the customer and the company,

“PR helps create a relationship between let’s say a commercial company and its customers who are more likely to choose the products from a company they have a good opinion over those from a firm they have never heard off before or heard something negative about it”(2012).

I believe that public relations helps advertising and marketing. It takes the campaign or idea created by advertising and marketing and executes it to the public. Without the relationship with the consumers, a company may not last.

Well known author and speaker Al Lautenslager wrote an article titled Why You Need PR. He was excellent at explaining all the important jobs public relations needs to fill. He also brought up an interesting point on how PR is changing,

“PR is communication in many ways with your target market. Maybe instead of public relations we ought to call it target market relations or TMR. You may be communicating about a new product, spreading news about your company or making a major announcement. You want to communicate publicly, but the only people you care about are potential prospects, customers or investors, in the case of a partnership or a public company” (2003).

A large soda company will never succeed if it only advertises and address those who only drink water in their lives. Advertising may try to change those minds by making the soda more desirable, but public relations targets those who already love soda and get them to buy their specific brand.

The field of public relations has many different aspects to it. You have to understand how the client or the company wants and how they want to portray themselves to the public and you have to execute that. Sometimes those who work in PR are only there to share a good story to the public or announce a new logo or style being launched. But with all the definitions that can be found, the name says it all. Public relations is simply the relationship with the public.

Martin, D. (2013). What’s Public Relations Really About?. Conference Board Review,50(2), 70-71.

Why You Need PR. (2003, November 17). Retrieved September 5, 2014, from http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/65672

(2012). PR Vs. Advertising. [Online] Retrieved from http://www.ipr.org.uk/pr-vs-advertising.html. [Last Accessed 4 September 2014].


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