Public Relations

Understanding Public Relations

Public Relations definition

There is a general misunderstanding of what Public Relations are. When you say you work in Public Relations it sounds cool but the majority of the people don’t fully understand what it means. They usually make up things like you are giving out brochures at the mall or you are like Samantha Jones from Sex and the City. But NO, sorry, let’s explain what working for PR is.

On the other side, if you are a student considering PR as your future career this is also a great post for you!

What is public relations?

We can find a lot of different Public Relations authors defining PR in different ways. But PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) is the most important institution for Public Relations in the world, so I found it as an excellent resource to take the first PR definition:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

It is explained by an efficient communication (planned beforehand) between a organization and their consumers where they both get something out of it.

There are three key concepts in Public Relations:

  • Strategy: analyze the image and the reputation of the organization. Find the right direction of the company through different PR tools like: press releases, pitches, events, networking, blogging, social media,  among others.
  • Communication: explain stories about the companies with clear messages. Look for the positive stories to tell and turn the bad news into positive messages. PR people are storytellers and stories are the most powerful tool to reach the attention of your public. I talked about storytelling on this post.
  • Relationships: PR professionals have to handle relationships from customers to employees. Relations and communication are one of the main functions of a PR job. Taking care of the people that are working in the company and of their users.

There is also another definition that i would like to highlight from The Princeton Review: “A public relations specialist is an image shaper. Their job is to generate positive publicity for their client and enhance their reputation” On the link above, there is a very interesting description of the prospective of a PR job nowadays, in 5 years and in 10 years. highly recommended to read.

What is the difference from advertising?

The contrast between Pr and advertising is easily noticeable and very well explained in the following chart. The main features that stand out are that PR are unpaid, earned and credible, while advertising is paid, purchased and it can be untrusting. There’s an old business saying cited in 1938 that says: “Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”

Extracted from

Those are the basic concepts to understand what Public Relations are and what PR professionals do. Public Relations are about managing the image and the reputation of an organization using PR tools successfully, being most effective tool storytelling.

Is the concept of Public Relations clear after reading the post? Do you still have questions or do you think I missed something? Don’t be shy and share it on the comments below!


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