We asked readers to define public relations.

Public Relations is...

2004

Public relations is the process of creating stakeholders.

A corporation -- and in fact any organization or individual with a mission -- requires stakeholder approval, which implies trust.

Corporate PR is a means of building sustainable trust through two-way communication. PR in this sense becomes, as Arthur W. Page indicated, the endeavor on which the entire company depends. 
-- E. Bruce Harrison (10/20)

Whatever the CEO says it is.
-- boston bound (5/25)

Regrettably, too much of PR today cab be defined as: the collection of money from any and all paying clients to help promote, defend and/or redefine virtually any institution, concept or product with little question as to the ethical nature of the check writer. Source: materials from Odwyer PR News reports.
-- Anonymous II
 (3/22) 

2003

The management of [an organization's, individual's, product's, etc.] credibility.
-- Don W. Stacks, Ph.D. (11/17)

Public Relations is just that "The relations you have in the public" from your customers, industry analysts, wholesalers, to the politicians and media.

Bottomline, when a client looks for ROI...is whether you delivered on time - whether it was media placement or a newsletter during the time frame you promised. PR is also third party endorsement. For example: Good PR is having someone like LA Mart or Home Depot say MAYO Communications is a great public relations firm that delivers media coverage and placement, than for us to toot our horn and put out a news release saying how great we are. 
-- George S. Mc Quade III, vice president, MAYO Communications (9/25)

PR is everything listed here and none of it, in intelligent moderation, with a twist.
-- crane (8/13)

Ken Kaess, president-CEO of Omnicom Group's DDB Worldwide, and chairman of the American Association of Advertising Agencies says, "Advertising works best by changing or reinforcing qualitative perceptions over a period of time". Isn't this also a good definition of PR?"
-- Dennis Spring, Spring Assoc., Inc. - dspring@springassociates.com (6/19)

 

The management of relationships between an organization and its publics.
--Grunig Groupie (1/22)

2002

PR is about getting free publicity when you don't have a budget for advertising. The more media coverage you can generate, the happier the client is!
--Anonymous (11/29)

Public relations is the effective management and delivery of information to the targeted audience. 
--TWR @ TPU, Waterbury, CT (11/13)

PR is a means of communicating ideas into the stream of public consciousness with the intent to take a concept from the realm of the intangible to the realm of the palpable. Ethics, integrity and accountability are essential, as in all things. It's not what you say, but how you say it. "It's the singer, not the song."
--Meg Patrick, Idiosyncratic PR Professional, MegpatrickM@netscape.net (11/13) 

Public relations is a tool of marketing that drives the overall business goals of a company or organization by placement of strategic information in mediums that reach target audiences, thereby influencing audiences (customers, shareholders, employees) to either buy products/services, partner with, or invest (either personally or financially) in a company or organization.
--Matthew/PR Specialist in LA (10/29)

Public relations is conveying to the public what you want them to know and hoping they receive it the way you spun it.
--Deborah J. Martin-Vengroff, Williams and Associates, Inc. (10/29) 

Andy Warhol may have said, 'in the future everybody will be famous for 15 minutes'--but I say in the future, everybody will have a publicist.
--KatoSpace, stealth PR agent and founder of creative artist collective, Huebeing Embassy, San Francisco Calif., huebeingembassy@yahoo.com (10/24)

Public relations is a series of well-planned & tailor-made communication programs established by a company to build and or to improve its relationship with and to get (better) mutual understanding and good will from its stakeholder(s); public relations is a facilitator of communication programs/activities between a company and its stakeholder(s).
--gap communication - jakarta, indonesia (10/23)

PR is whatever the client wants it to be.
--Agency VP (10/18)

Successful PR communicates and presents the most appropriate information to the public, for the interest of the party concerned.
--Judy - Amman, Jordan (10/10)

Interpreting business-talk, government-speak and bureaucrat-ese and turning it into English.
--Stuart Roy, Communications Director, Office of the House Majority Whip (10/8)

Public Relations is managing public perception by means of maximising strengths and minimizing threats. 
--RCIM - Jakarta, Indonesia (10/1)

PR is telling your story to someone who will benefit your company or who will tell someone who will benefit your company. It is affect-building.

Sponsorship in a people-satisfying venue is an effective way to reach influential publics.
--Michael Cook, Santa Barbara; IMAX film producer. mcooksb@netscape.net (9/27) 

Promotion of a product or company in the guise of an editorial, feature or newsletter.
--IAA (9/24)

Erma Bombeck said: "Don't confuse fame with success. Madonna is one; Helen Keller is the other." A good PR program might suggest that Madonna (assuming we are talking about the performer!) "is" a highly successful business woman. Artist? Pioneer? Then PR in this particular situation would be defined as a good media-training program, one that appropriately enlisted the use of a "bridge," keeping the topic of conversation safely focused on her success!
--Eric Villines, Burson-Marsteller Dallas (9/17)

PR can be simply stated...though not simply defined. PR practitioners can not agree on the definition of PR. To me....PR is the art of communication upon which the very essence of language is continuously evolved in order to effect positive image. Of course, "spin" works just as well.
--J. Martinez - University of Phoenix student (9/15)

It's the creation, manipulation, enhancement and/or reconfiguration of perception specific to a person, group, product or cause using multiple communications media. In other words, it's the process through which perception is shaped using any and every communications tool appropriate to the situation.
--In The Biz (9/11)

The definition of PR is whatever you need it to be in order to keep your clients happy, and to keep them from firing you.

Perhaps my definition is a little rough around the edges...but it gets the job done for me.
--ConnecticutYankee (9/10)

 

To define PR, we could perhaps begin with what it is not. It is not advertising! Nor Sales Promotion, nor direct mail etc

PR is finding the way to get other people or institutions to say nice things about you or your product/service, without spending a huge sum of money.

Once these people say something nice about you, we in the PR profession then try and get other people to listen to them. We also try to keep getting them to say it (reputation management!)

Sometimes, something bad happens and we then try and stop other people from saying bad things about us or our products/services (crisis management).

We most often try to do the above by talking to the newspapers, TV, radio and magazines (media relations).

Sometimes we use other important or knowledgeable people who then talk to the media for us (opinion former endorsement)

When we don't know what to say, we think of new things based on what we think people want to hear (research) and we think of ways that we can say it (strategy).

We always like to begin by knowing what the end result should be, and what nice things we want said about us and by whom, when and why (objectives).

Sometimes, we ask them what they think after they've said things or we look at what other people are saying now as a result (evaluation).

We often face challenging circumstances (frightened clients, no budget, uncooperative media, difficult third parties, etc.), but unlike our friends in the ad industry this does not stop us!

To misquote Churchill, "the PR person finds the opportunity in every difficulty, the ad man finds the difficulty in every opportunity."

We are an underrated profession often staffed by overrated amateurs, but constantly trying to reverse the situation.

We do make a difference, but we are rarely able to prove it.

We are usually cost effective, but the value is hard to define.

We should sit on boards, instead of looking bored, but until we can prove we earn money we may not even get a seat at the table.
--El Greco (9/9)

PR is establishing and maintaining the client's reputation while creating goodwill. The challenge is in the maintenance.
--PTM Healthcare Marketing, Inc. (9/9)

Doing good and telling about it.
--Ed (8/21)

The Oxford English Dictionary's definition of public relations:

'the professional maintenance of a favorable public image ...'

Small and medium-sized companies, particularly those who cannot afford to hire dedicated in-house PR resource, are taking PR and marketing more and more seriously as consumers become ever more sophisticated and media-savvy.

They realize that in a crowded market place, you have to shout to be heard. Through a strategic program of pro-active media and public relations, PR will enhance your company's reputation, and raise public awareness of your products and services. In the event of a crisis, it will also help you to deal with media interest, ensuring that damage to your reputation and brand is minimized. Big or small, all companies at times have problems, and dealing with the media without professional advice is a high-risk strategy.

For most small and medium-sized companies, hiring in-house PR support is too expensive. Agencies can provide the answer, and can put together a flexible pricing package ranging from a full retainer to a project fee to an hourly rate.

One of the advantages of an outside agency is that it brings an outside perspective to your business that employees often can't provide. They are also 100 percent dedicated to your PR program because agencies aren't distracted with the many other marketing/corporate/internal communications tasks that consume the time of in-house PR executives.

Agencies are PR experts, and are up-to-date on all the latest resources and techniques available to them. They will also make sure that they know your core business and products inside-out and will know the journalists and editors who count in those areas.

Public relations agencies can also keep overhead down. They don't require paid leave, National Insurance contributions, sick pay, office equipment, or office space.
--Adrian Ruck (8/14)

PR is about communicating with people effectively yet tactfully keeping in mind their perceptions & feelings. It entails communication through advertising, free release or writeups in media vehicles. Basically it's about enhancing your communication through using several mediums.
--swetakapur@yahoo.com (7/31)

PR is simply about putting a smile -- all sorts of smiles -- on a company's name.
--Jumbo Jet (7/23)

"Propaganda," according to Webster's Dictionary, consists of "ideas or information methodically spread to promote or injure a cause, movement, nation, etc." This strikes me as a remarkably accurate description of the public relations enterprise as well. The practice of public relations, then, is the manufacture and dissemination of propaganda.
--Nighthawk (7/19)

PR is nothing more than a reflection of the organization it serves. It can be the positive, outreaching voice and gestures of an organization with goodwill and vision. Or it can be the defensive, retracting utterances and poses of an organization with selfishness and shortsightedness.
--Scott Gower, Towson University (7/18)

The truth well told.
--Steven Greene, CEO, Sperling Greene Associates (7/15)

Public relations is trying to keep 250 angry U.S. Marines from attacking 150 persistent journalists while they clamor to take photos of their injured comrades in an Afghan combat zone. 
--Dan Hottle, Hickman and Associates account exec and former Marine Corps public affairs officer (7/12)

Public relations is establishing trust and building consensus. It's true what Abraham Lincoln said in 1864: "With public opinion, nothing can fail. Without it, nothing can succeed. Therefore, he who creates public opinion contributes more to a society that he who creates laws or enacts statutes."

Public and private perceptions relative to our clients are really a form of working capital, and as with all capital, their short- and long-term value is really determined by how well these perceptions are managed...by clients and by us on behalf of our clients.
--Mark A. Ricotta, Cummings Advertising, Rockford, IL (7/11)

Public relations is the practice of influencing behavior.
--Anonymous (7/9)

Doing something good and communicating the substance of the performance.
--Leanna, recent UD graduate (7/9)

All the definitions are textbook so far. PR, public relations, is telling the Big Lie and getting people to believe it. Examples: "Genetically engineered foods are good for you." "Nuclear power is the answer to America's energy needs." "Wind and solar power are too expensive." "Buy American" (Even the flags that we are asked to fly are made in China). "We are winning the drug war." "There is no such thing as global warming." To name a few! To see smaller versions of the Big Lie, watch television commercials. Or the nightly news. 
--Thos Myers, High school media literacy teacher (7/8)

Word of mouth is the best form of advertising and public relations is all about putting words into the mouths of others (media, stakeholders, communities, customers).
--PR guy in Orlando (7/1)

Public Relations is the sole reason PR agencies exist. PR is the image to build through the messages to send and the third party endorsements it brings from customers, partners, public and the media.
--George S. Mc Quade III, MAYO Communications (6/24)

PR is the skill and strategy of influencing and bonding.
--Ana/Bovan Communications/Beelgrade/Serbia (6/24)

Public relations is the art of taking all the credit and none of the blame.
--Dave Kamp, SureWest Communications (6/17)

An attempt to control what is constitutionally guaranteed to be uncontrollable.
--Katie Delahaye Paine, Publisher, The Measurement Standard (6/17) 

Organising the truth so that people like you.
--David Cox (6/7)

Public relations is bone-crushing disappointment after bone-crushing disappointment.
--Blonde Canadian PR Gal (5/23)

Dignity when faced with Humiliation
Integrity when faced with Dishonor
Forthright when faced with Fallacy
--Dave Davis, Head Honcho GMaVZ, headhoncho@gmavz.com (5/22)

PR is a marriage of the most unlikely couple: politics and ethics.
--JohnMMudd@aol.com (5/20)

Public relations is communication and fostering a positive image. Press releases, news releases, video news releases and other forms of global communications all serve to increase sales.
--Cherri Robinson, Teikyo Post University (5/2)

Public relations is the handling and the proper management of communications between the company and the public in order to ensure proper representation of issues on behalf of the company.
--Victoria Chorbajian, Chorbajian Speaking Enterprises, Public Speaking Coach/Media Trainer, www.victoriathecoach.com (3/22) 

Public relations is the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an organization with the public interest, and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance. It involves doing the right thing and telling the truth.
--EMD, Grt. Wtrbry Chamber and Teikyo Post University (3/21)

The area of public relations serves as a lifeline between corporations, organizations and politicians and their respective constituents. If used effectively, public relations, as a tool, can help to build and create relationships of confidence, credibility and goodwill.
--Kim B. Mannello, Teikyo Post University (3/15)

Two way traffic communication between the public and organizations.
--medan (3/14)

Public Relations is conducted through the media -- newspapers, magazines, etc. Public relations is one of the primary activities included in promotion.
--Lisa from Indonesia (3/11)

PR is fundamentally publicity -- the raising of awareness of something or the changing of opinion about something. Despite its confusion with advertising and marketing, it is the complement to the former and a component of the latter.
--John Tiernan (3/6)

Developing, managing and maintaining relationships with any audience that can affect your organization.
--Harry Hoover, Hoover ink, Huntersville, NC (3/6)

PR is 50% what you've got and 50% what people think you've got.
--deydreaming2002@yahoo.com (3/4)

PR is engendering understanding, co-operation and goodwill that are mutually beneficial and attractive to both the organisation and the publics.
--Uncle King (2/18)

In business, PR is getting results, i.e., ink. In politics, it's about saving face or discrediting the opposition. Unfortunately, to the rest of the world, it's perceived as spin and manipulation of the news. Message to advertisers: Your PR brethren need an image campaign along the Got Milk lines. But we don't have any $ to spend. Can anyone help?
--JG (1/28)

PR is being a courtroom lawyer without a license, a courtroom or any rules of evidence or engagement... just a client facing a jury that needs be convinced of something, a jury the client may not even see or recognize, and which cannot be compelled to pay attention.
--Anonymous (1/22)

PR is making others talk good about you or your client. It's as simple as that!!
--Mexican PR Pro (1/15)

Here's what PR is NOT: propaganda, spin, flackery, or free advertising, to name a few.
--A professional communicator (1/2)

2001

From my peculiar perspective working for a non-profit, I tend more and more towards Paul Holmes' thesis that public relations is in fact reputation management.

The perceived foul-ups by Red Cross of monies donated for victims of the September 11 horror have provided, it seems, "reasons" for some of our potential donors in Montgomery to not give. It's a reputation thing.

Perhaps it goes back to the Jim and Tammy Faye Baker blowup and the former United Way of America President's legal and moral lapses. Our reputation was damaged profoundly...and it now doesn't take very much to rub the scab off that wound.
--Hank Schmitt (12/18)

I define public relations as influencing attitudes to affect action. Everything is about "selling" something, whether it's a product, service or idea. Therefore, PR is about "selling" a product, service or idea. In other words, PR is about making something happen! Harold Burson got it right, too, when he said PR is about influencing attitudes and behavior. 
--Anthony J. Tortorici, CEO, Tortorici & Randolph, Inc., Atlanta (12/18)

Here are two that I've heard over the years and like, but I don't know the sources:

"Public relations means doing good and getting credit for it." (Idealistic, perhaps, but reasonable.)

"Public relations is when you're better to your publics than your relations." (Think about it, especially if you're a workaholic.)
--Don Bates (12/13)

The definition for public relations used in exams is "the art of creating mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics." In the real world, PR is more about influencing through accentuating the positive and building relationships. But performance is key. Without performance any kind of PR creates a huge credibility gap. PR is also about influencing leaders to change organisations internally and to change in relation to external forces before other firms for competitive advantage.
--Chesney Bradshaw, Corporate Communications Manager, ABB, South Africa (11/15)

Public Relation is a concept to improve the perception of the stake holders using the various communication tools. better perception leads to better image and to better reputation
--K. Srinivasan, Managing Director, Prime Point Public Relations (P) Limited, Madras, India e-mail: prpoint@vsnl.com (11/15) 

Public Relations is the art of illustrating actions and facts to build third-party endorsement, shape perceptions and influence outcomes.

Like a heart pumps blood in a circuit to all the body's organs, PR facilitates organizational communication to course through all the stakeholders and returns as feedback.
--R. Carter Langston, 10-year veteran frequently asked 'what is PR?' (11/8)

Public Relations is the act of informing and influencing various publics by internally and externally communicating and using tools such as marketing, advertising, promotions, publicity, special events, and writing.

It's pretty sad that so many PR professionals can barely define PR, but from my experience, I think this definition is broad enough to classify just about any type of PR.
--Scott Samson, rsamson@vt.edu, student at Virginia Tech, graduating in Dec. and need a job in PR!! (11/7)

It's advertising you can't buy.
--Anonymous (10/30)

 

In many ways, PR is like gossip. Gossip is people talking about you when you're not there. That's, in large part, the objective of PR -- to get people talking about you when you're not there, and to influence what it is they're saying about you.
--G. Mark Towhey -- TOWHEY Consulting Group Inc., Leaders in Strategic Influence (10/12)

Public Relations = Communications Solutions for various organizational problems

What's the strategy of PR, the communicative solutions?
-- PR tries to solve problems by increasing "consubstantiality" (meaning 'shared substance,' suggested by Burke, a great rhetorician) between an organization and its target publics.

This is why PR is more about (two-way) "identification" (meaning increasing consubstantiality, again borrowing Burke's term) than (one-way) persuasion.
--Hoh Kim (10/3)

It is the art of consistently creating your desired perception among your key audiences and consistently supporting that perception with fact. When done right, public relations is imperceptible.
--Stacie Leone, VP Global Communications, Jupiter Media Metrix (9/27)

I prefer to give a definition of the somewhat more focused - and therefore more easily defined - area of lobbying: "Lobbying is when public and private actors
- by legal and informal means - try to influence politicians and bureaucrats in the explicit purpose to use, change and or hinder change of laws and or regulations."
--Lobbyist in Stockholm, Sweden (9/20)

"Performance Recognized" is the definition that my college professor (Albert Walker) used. Whether it involves people, products, services or issues, the primary goal of PR is to generate recognition for the performance to the target audiences.
--Unknown (7/25)

"Public relations is the engineering of perception."
--Leonard Saffir, author of "Power Public Relations: How to Master the New PR; and former executive vice president of Porter Novelli (7/16)

An easy way to earn a decent living. Heavy lifting it ain't.
--12 year PR exec (7/3)

PR can be many things. To the layperson, I explain it as a mixture of sales, marketing, journalism, and advertising. Speak your public's language if you want them to relate. It's all about the presentation! 
--Silicon Valley - Where'd the money go? (6/29)

Storytelling that is the difference between perception and reality.
--Captain (6/27)

Public Relations is communicating who you are, what you do, why you do it, and how you make a difference.
--M Smith (6/22)

The role of PR is to take the fall when a company's marketing program fails.
--Unknown (6/7)

 

What is "Public Relations"? At its best, it is the art of persuasion resulting in the opening of minds and changes in attitudes. On a more pedestrian level it is the communication technique that opens a reporter's notebook and a consumer's checkbook.

At its worst, it is the ability to create something from nothing and communicate that "something" in a manner so convincing that you have gained an audience who believes you.

On rare occasions, the most effective "public" relations work is the private conversation necessitated by a client who insists on admiring the clothes the emperor forgot to wear. 
--Gregg Laskoski, vice president, public relations, Yesawich, Pepperdine & Brown -Orlando, FL (6/5)

The art of explanation. 
--Rutgers University professor (5/31)

I belive PR is the management of communication between an organization and its publics. In its highest form, it should be a two-way process, with the organization actually interested in feedback from those publics.
--Unknown (5/31)

 

Public Relations is the interpreting of managements ideas and policies through campaigns, community relations, and reviews to media personal and the public.
--Douglas Peacock (Student) Ferris State University (5/24)

Public relations is the activities and attitudes intended to analyze, adjust to, influence, and direct the opinion of any group or groups in the interest of any individual, group, or institution --page 484 of Webster's New World Dictionary of Media and Communications.
--Richard Weiner (5/18)

Public Relations is delivering a message to your target through an intermediary; advertising is going to them directly.
--Unknown (5/17)

Is never letting the right hand know what the left hand is really doing. Except when it is doing it exceptionally well.
--Spin Mistress (5/8)

Having worked for the "nation's best mid-sized PR firm," I'm led to believe PR is blinding yourself to the truth and sitting on your values while you advocate (spin) for big business, which is typically in hot water for screwing the powerless and the environment. (And I'm slightly to the right of Bill Buckley.)
--Vince Bank, Director, Internet Branding, Top Echelon (4/30)

Reputation.
--Unknown (4/26)

The process of building and advancing mutually-positive, productive and profitable relationships with those audiences and stakeholders who are important, or potentially can be.
--Patrick Di Chiro, President & CEO, THUNDER FACTORY, Inc. (4/25)

PR has three legs-Public Relations, People Relations and Print Relations. Each represents a distinctively different function of PR.

Public Relations is the science of cultivating a presence within the community at large including peers, media, clients/customers and competitors.

People Relations addresses the flesh and bones behind the myths (that we are all guilty of creating)and is the process by which we, as consultants, "build a better model".

Print Relations is not a reference to media relations but rather a suggestion that it is essential that a PR firm have the ability to communicate on an exceptional level via the written word to generate sound communications reflecting the voice and culture of each separate client. In other words, we are not JUST planning parties, we are building reputations that will last long after our clients breathe their last breaths...or at least that is what we try to do.
--Nicole Mitchell, President-The Empowerment Factory--Houston, TX 281-575-1591 (4/20)

PR is a process of moving information regarding entity vision (corporate, non-profit etc), strategy, product, community involvement and other PERTINENT information to TARGET(S) within SPECIFIC demographics based on internal corporate strategy and goals.

Those goals differ DRAMATICALLY from entity to entity. That's why PR pros create extremely targeted and custom programs for each client. There is no cookie cutter approach here.

It becomes the buzz or glue that joins Marketing (direct mail, advertising etc) and Sales pitching into a cohesive and EFFECTIVE marketing communication program.
--Timothy Robb, Sr Acct Exec, MBI (4/19)

Public Relations involves positive images, not only for the company or firm that you are working for but also for yourself. It's all about the positive image.
--Stephanie S. NDSU Communication Student (4/19)

Public relations is a business management function that identifies, establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and its publics, upon whom success or failure depends. It requires truth and honesty, free speech, two-way communications, and consistency.

That's the definition from Cutlip and Center, and it's the definition used for universal accreditation in public relations. And, after reading some of the postings listed here, I'm more convinced than ever that licensing or mandated accreditation is needed to get those who claim to practice public relations on the same damn level as the rest of us. This isn't about art, spin, flackery, column inches, or image, folks. An example: Half of the net worth of Fortune 500 corporations isn't "on the books;" it is intangible, hinging on the value of their reputations. Our clients don't need more ink -- they need honest advice on how to manage their reputations wisely. Don't you think it's time we step up to the plate and act like the business consultants that we should be?
--An accredited Midwest consultant (4/16)

Identify value and communicate it to those who would most likely benefit from the information.
--Doug Kilarski, ASPEN Business Development (4/9)

PR - the only industry that can't agree on a definition; the title accepted by political campaign groopies.
--Unknown (4/9)

Informs, changes attitudes, changes behaviors.
--Marena G, Margate, NJ (4/9)

PR is making your clients look good by pushing quality products. It is also maintaining good internal relations.
--PR Student (4/9)

Advocating a positive image to your company's or clients' business audiences. The techniques and tools used to accomplish this goal are what differentiate PR from all other forms of marketing.
--Dennis Spring, Spring Associates, Inc. (4/6)

To create and maintain a positive image in the public eye over time.
--Matthew Schlosberg (4/6)

Public relations involves ongoing activities to create a buzz and to ensure your company has a strong public image. Public relations events include making your company or client newsworthy and helping the public to understand the company and its products. Often, public relations are done through the media: print (newspapers and magazines), television, and news media websites such as CNN.com, ABC.com,NBC.com, CBS Marketwatch, Reuters, AP and so on. Public Relations is often confused with marketing, where you pay to get someone to purchase your products, but in PR you sell an organization. PR is considered as one of the primary functions of any promotion. Unlike advertising where you have control over the message, in PR reporters and writers decide what will be said or reporter based on the company background and PR information you've provide to them.
--Aida Mayo, president, Mayo Communications, Los Angeles,www.MayoCommunications.com (4/4)

By and large the practice of Public Relations is the attempt to alter or change the behavior of an organization's contituency or constituencies. Generally, behavioral changes are effected through the use of a myriad of communications techniques that attempt to shape public opinion and perception.
--Dave Anderson, Austin, TX (3/29)

The values-driven management of relationships between an organization and it's publics.
--Mikesyf (3/28)

Anytime a company communicates with the outside, or its management with employees. (Now GOOD p.r., that may be something else altogether...)
--David Moyer; Moyer, Sherwood Associates, Inc. (3/28)

PR is the art of convincing others that your clients are as important as they think they are.
--Dana Mellecker, Account Supervisor, NYPR (3/23)

The art or science of establishing and promoting a favorable relationship with the public.
--Jack Flack jack@flackjacketnews.com (3/23)

Managing reputation to the public.
--Just a young flack on the front lines of pr (3/23)

Developing and maintaining a corporation's image and credibility to its various internal and external publics.
--Lowly first year PR student (3/22)

Public relations: knowing and understanding who your publics are, why they are your publics and what influences and motivates them (their hierarchy of needs) to effectively create and implement strategic activities and provide desired messages/information. By developing the appropriate relationships with enablers of message delivery (eg. media or community leaders), public relations seeks to positively influence the publics' opinion/s of the organisation/client in order to achieve business objectives in a conducive environment.
--Lydia Gallant, PR consultant, Sydney, Australia lydiagallant@hotmail.com (3/20)

An art applied to science.
--Edward L. Bernays (I'm BACK!) (3/15)

Public Relations is the integration of an organization´s new relationships with stakeholders that create and protect the brand and reputationof and organization.
--Mexican PR Consultant (3/15)

PR firms manipulate the media to tell their clients' versions of important stories through objective third-party outlets. PR firms aim to deliver stories that have the credibility of independence and the control of advertising.
--Mark Kennedy, Northwestern University (3/14)

PR in tandem with marketing and advertising, is the best tool of choice when advocating for a particular company or client.
--rachel_littleton@hotmail.com (3/13)

PR is the art of influencing the influencers.
--Marga Draper, PR Manager, SYLINQ Corp. (3/13)

Much like leadership, PR is the art of influencing human behavior. If done successfully, it can seem effortless and natural. If not, it can seem like a gyroscope spinning around at a frantic pace without really going anywhere.
--Steve Hawken, spinnerhawken@hotmail.com (3/9)

Public Relations is the communication process in witch an individual or a company let’s the general publics know certain issues or key messages, to achieve a certain goals like the acceptance in a certain stakeholders or the approval of not so well know facts in society.
--PR CONSULTANT MEXICO R.B. (3/8)

PR is everything which deals with the public both internal and external. From the secretary at the front desk, to the CEO, and everything they say and do. A PRs job is to show the organisation in the best light possible to the external publics.
--Augustus J Venselaar (3/8)

Establishing a recognizable presence for a company or product with the media and public.
--Bearclaw (3/7)

PR is all about projecting the image of an identity and hoping that one day the latter will catch up with the former.
--James Russell, Corporate Communication Consultant (3/7)

PR stands for "Protect your Reputation".
--Guy Leroux (3/6)

Image, diplomatic, community, charity, announcements.
--Anonymous (3/6)

Facilitating dialogues for fun and profit.
--Vic Nebulous (3/5)

 

Public Relations is defined in the words - public - relations. What the public says about your client's products or services, and the relationships built as a result. Good PR means they're saying good things about you, and that influences buyer's decisions. Bad PR also influences buyer's decisions, and what the public perceives about you. You can make low income housing look like a four-star hotel if your PR is good! Or you can make your four-start hotel look like low-income housing if your PR is bad. Good PR is sustains or improves the image of your company, and what you want the public to think and say about you.
--George S. McQuade III, V.P., www.MAYO Communications.com (3/2)

Getting a firm credit for doing good things and containing the damage when it screws up.
--Howard Morgan (3/2)

PR is actions and/or information capturing the public attention with a specified intent to inform, influence, increase awareness, and/or stimulate the audience; therefore, allowing the audience to disseminate the information facilitating their ideas/opinions and activities.
--A griffin a newbie PR hopeful (3/1)

Talk!
--B. Schiffer - LA, CA (2/26)

PR is a multi-faceted communication process employed through diverse channels of strategic programing and management. It is the arm of business that creates a steady presence for a company's internal and external publics.
--miya, los angeles, ca (2/26)

Public Relations practitioners attempt, on behalf of their clients or employers, to change the behaviors and attitudes of an audience. This may include controlling an intended message through media, client speeches, articles, and other communications. Practitioners work together with all departments, including executive management, marketing, advertising, manufacturing, and customer relations, because to change an audience's behavior, the message, and the intended attitude or behavior modification, must be clear and consistent, yet not blatantly manipulative.
--Lorilyn Bailey, creator of GuestFinder.comlorilyn@guestfinder.com (2/25)

PR is profit by influencing the influencial. It is the trigger for "Change" in our society. And, whether that "Change" is good or bad is another story. Let's leave figuring that out to another discipline.
--Jesse Alvarez, just some guy in PR (2/23)

PR is the relationship between an organization and its publics (not just the media!) where two-way communication leads to planned strategies in an effort to build and maintain images while affecting the behavior of the publics. Though the real question is, What is GOOD PR?!?!?!
--Meg from PA who's tryin to get her BA! (2/23)

Pervert the media for fun and profit.
--Unknown (2/23)

For an agency its very much like being in love with a customer - you always tell enhancing stories to publics about your beloved one :).
--Ally, Lithuania (2/21)

For PR agencies it is the illusion of progress. In corporations it's a cost center. Media regard it as a necessary evil. For politicians it's life. For the public it is fluff. To me PR is art. 
--PR Wanderer (2/15)

Issues that matter to an organization and its publics are literal dramas. That means PR professionals do more than retell stories -- they create discourse that emphasizes dramatic dimensions inherent in an issue and invites the involvement of the audience with the organization.

Public relations, then, is the measured and ethical use of language and symbols to inspire cooperation between an organization and its publics by enacting an issue's drama with which target audiences will identify.
--Pete Smudde, Ph.D. (2/15)

Public relations is the communication function of management through which organizations adapt to, alter, or maintain their environment for the purpose of achieving organizational goals. 
--Vincent Hazleton, Professor of Communication, Radford University (2/15)

PR is the ability to influence public opinion -- about a person, organization, product, company, or idea -- by creating and communicating news or a viewpoint that results in positive media exposure in news stories that reach the client's target audiences. 
-- PR Pro, New York (2/15)

PR represents an agile ability to interpret your client's needs, wants and desires into something tangible, which in turn will result in the client's ultimate satisfaction. 
--PR Diva in Washington (2/14)

Making people think stuff!
--The masked PR man (2/14)

PR is the tool to paint the picture you want seen. A great product, a caring company, the truth (?), sometimes not. Pictures can inspire people, make them mad, and give them passion about a cause. All with the tool that is PR.
--Unknown (2/12)

Public Relations maintains a mutually beneficial relationship between a company and its public for which its advancement or failure depends on.
--Ellye Rashkin (2/10)

Somebody once said that "everything in life is politics and selling." If that is the case then public relations is everything - and everything (on one level or another) is an act of public relations.
--Unknown (2/9)

 

Relationship building, media management.
--Chris Mitchell (2/9)

Public relations is war. It's about winners and losers. Winners gain public, media, and regulatory acceptance and support for their products, services, and organizations. Losers see their products, services, and organizations sacrificed on the alter of public opinion, pilloried by the media, and trampled by excessive regulation.
--Ross S. Irvine, President/Corporate Activist, ePublic Relations Ltd,www.epublicrelations.org (2/7)

Public relations is the management of relationships between an institution and its constituent audiences those audiences that can, by their consent, allow the organization to direct its resources toward the achievement of its goals or, by its opposition, serve as an obstacle by forcing the organization to reallocate its resources to address the issues raised by the audience (e.g., consumers boycott, unions strike, media provides negative coverage, analysts advise against buying stock, etc.).
--Shel Holtz (2/6)

PR is trying to relate to the public. Getting the audience to feel for your client. Trying to hit a nerve with the right demographic to sell more products and look good doing it. PR is every memo, letter, newspaper clipping, press release, promotional event, and every spoken word. PR is all around us, and the only thing you can do is hope you are doing it right.
--Sean Huset, future Survivor III winner (2/6)

I once heard Harold Burson give this definition: Public Relations is the practice of influencing opinion and behavior.
--Mitch Leff, Director, Public Relations, Turner Learning

Using any form of media to communicate a positive image to the public.
--Erin D. (NDSU Department of Communication) (2/5)

Public relations is simultaneously a game to be played every day, and an art to be practiced every day. It is an ongoing process of getting the public to know your organization, understand it, accept it, and ultimately like it so much that they tell their friends. It is not a game for ditzy blondes.
--RLM, NDSU (2/5)

Just like any other career, where you try to make money by making your company look good.
--North Dakota State University Mass comm. student... Jason M. (2/5)

The management and maintanence of projecting a positive image for your client.
--Ricardo Gion (1/29)

PR is something that organizations, businesses, and politicians do to attract the publics interest.
--S. Stanina, college student (1/25)

PR is the art of not returning telephone calls.
--unknown (1/24)

Letting the public know what your client or employer wants them to know. It also involves preparing your client or employer for dealing with the public themselves.
--Entertainment PR Coordinator in Texas (1/24)

Image
--jcu (1/23)

PR is the strategy in which a PR agent does whatever is needed, ethically, or unethically, as long as they don't get caught, to make sure that the public eye sees the company they're representing as a positive image!
--JRS, college student (1/23)

Public relations is the art and science of helping clients or employers communicate more effectively and persuasively with audiences that impact them.
--Brian Schwartz, Hoffman Agency (1/19)

Truth management.
--ex-White House press aide (1/19)

PR is the strategic and sincere communication effort, managed by PR practitioners, to communicate the philosophy and identity of a corporation or organization with its public. PR works for only the corporation or organization that keeps its own idealistic philosophy and successful identity.
--Yong Min Chung, Senior Account Supervisor, Communications Korea, Seoul, Korea (1/17)

PR is all about telling your story. Telling it well.
--www.thinkitPR.com (1/17)

The following "definition" of public relations, which I affectionately recite in mock delight, was shouted at me in 1981 by an angry Israeli client (who, several years later, served as best man at my wedding). For it's intended comical relief, it is best recited in a thick, dramatic Israeli dialect:

"Public relations?! I'll tell you about public relations! Public relations is 75% bullshit and TWEN-tee-five percent commissions!"
--Scott E. Ross, CEO, News Bureau, A division of The Communications Partnership, Inc., Aventura, Florida. www.newsbureau.net (1/16)

Public relations is about "the truth." Public relations professionals working for a single client, a non-profit organization, or a for-profit company, should hold themselves and their company to the highest standards of truth, whether positive or negative, at all times. This is the essence of public relations. Without truth any publicity is worthless and dishonest.
--A Communications Manager (1/16)

Public Relations is simply about establishing relevant third party endorsement for a brand - be that the thoughts of a journalist, the approval of a member of government, an analyst's report, the words of a celebrity and ultimately the beliefs of the general public. 
--Siobhan Aalders, Senior Vice President, Joe Public Relations (1/15)

PR is an island approximately 1,000 miles southeast of Miami, Florida between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. The coqui- a tiny frog found everywhere on the island- is the "unofficial national symbol", and figures prominently in culture and heritage.
--J. Fred Muggs, President, Muggs Communications Worldwide (1/15)

PR is a welcoming trade wind on a vast ocean of information, disinformation, commerce and media overload. It guides one to port, safely and comfortably; to the safe harbor of satisfaction for both parties involved.
--PR pro, New York (1/15)

Public relations is the art of explanation. (It should not take 75 words to explain what our discipline is.)
--Burke Stinson, AT&T spokesman (1/15)

PR is what PR people do. The business is defined by its practitioners and their practices, and we have learned from long experience that no formal definition works.
--Bill Huey, President, Strategic Communications, Atlanta (1/15)

Public Relations - Any activity that promotes a positive image, fosters goodwill, or increases sales. The business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm or institution.
--Niki Howard, AquaJogger (1/11)

PR is the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.
--DG (1/11)

PR = Making other people think closer to what you'd like them to think about you than what they would otherwise think on their own.
--M. Goulet (1/10)

Public relations is talking to the media on behalf of a client. The subject or issue can be positive or negative. One can talk to other audiences, but the media is always the most important because of its credibility and ability to reach huge numbers of people. PR people are, in one sense, translators between a client and the media ... neither one fully trusts the other, but need each other -- so PR is the art of making each side listen to the other and respond. Hopefully, positively. Maybe even creatively ... P.T. Barnum was disturbed by the too-slow exit of customers from one of his popular exhibits, so he put up a sign "This way to the egress." Now, that's a PR person.
--Beatrice B. Lund, President, The Lund Group, New York. NY (1/10)

PR is the protagonist on the stage of public opinion. Each act involves a carefully scripted scene of persuasion and purpose. The ultimate measure of its reign is impeccably clear: success in public relations spells success; failure in public relations spells failure. Competitive entities continue to suffer great consequences because their leaders have not adequately recognized this cardinal truth.
--Carolyn Daly, Stanton Crenshaw Communications (1/10)

PR is the function of institutions that deals with experts in the marketplace of ideas including reporters and columnists, the experts that they quote, opinion leaders, government officials, Wall Street analysts, and others who are at the cutting edge of news and opinion creation. PR normally works through and with these thought leaders and does not approach markets or audiences directly. Advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing do that. PR's materials must hold up against expert questioning.
--PR Counselor, New York (1/10)

 
How do you define marketing communications and how does it differ from PR?
 

 

If PR people can not come up with a conclusive definition, imagine HR people trying to do a PR search. Guess that is why ex-journalists get some jobs over PR pros.

-- Marketing & Communications "Consultant" (12/19)

Marketing communications involves efforts to promote products and services that can be evaluated through sales.

Public relations is about managing an organization's communication and influencing its actions to develop relationships with publics who determine its success.

This work involves issues management and other relationship development strategies.

Practitioners can evaluate the quality of their relationships with key publics to judge their success. Ledingham and Bruning's (2000) book, "Public Relations as Relationship Management" provides details.

-- Tiffany Derville, Ph.D. Student, University of Maryland (7/12)

Here's an interesting test: read through all of these replies and count how many PR pros actually answered the question that was posed. Draw your own conclusions about our profession.

-- Old Flack (2/01)

Marketing communications: getting and keeping customers. Public relations: putting a good face on the organization.

-- Tim McMahon (1/11)

Marketing communications can be a component or subset of public relations, not vice-versa. The term also has under its umbrella other consumer-driving disciplines such publicity, advertising, direct-mail, promotions, etc. Not every public relations program has a marketing communications element in it.

 

The practice of public relations itself includes many other communications tools that would not be considered "marketing communications," such as investor relations, constituency relations, crisis communications or public affairs.

-- FlatironNYC (12/17)

PR is an important component of marketing communications. Marketing communications includes everything from advertising to direct mail to public relations.

Nice to see O'Dwyer's actually welcoming some input on this notion rather than just continuing to declare them one and the same.

-- Chicago PR Guy (12/16)

Marcom mostly aims at producing immediate, tangible actions that boost sales or customer inquries; it often reports to a client marketing executive rather than the client CEO; mostly it goes directly to target audiences with a message coordinated with any ad campaign; it will use the news media if the product is newsy but cannot wait for editors to write about it; it mostly avoids the two extremes of press coverage and paid ads, concentrating on all the other modes of communications in between such as the web, special events, direct mail,
speeches to private groups, sponsorships and co-sponsorships, signage, etc. Marcom firms know current distribution channels and suggest new ones.
-- NY PR flack (12/13)