Public Relations (PR) is a planned communication and/or relationship building activity with strategic or deliberate intent, emphasising the management of communications, the management of relationships and the creation and maintenance of reputation.
It seeks to create awareness among specific groups, often referred to as ‘publics’ or ‘stakeholders’, and engage their interest. The interest of the public should result in a mutually beneficial relationship or response, possibly as dialogue.
PR is the practice of managing and disseminating information from an individual or an organization – such as a business, government agency, or a non-profit organization – to the public in order to affect their public perception.
PR informs the public, prospective customers, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders, and ultimately persuade them to maintain a positive or favourable view about the organization, its leadership, products, or political decisions.
PR specialists establish and maintain relationships with an organization’s target audience, the media, relevant trade media, and other opinion leaders. Common responsibilities include designing communications campaigns, writing press releases and other content for news, working with the press, arranging interviews for company spokespeople, writing speeches for company leaders, acting as an organization’s spokesperson, preparing clients for press conferences, media interviews and speeches, writing website and social media content, managing company reputation (crisis management), managing internal communications, and marketing activities like brand awareness and event management.
In its most common form, public relations has been enacted through the media, which has been the gatekeeper of communication. With the rise of social media, PR activity has increasingly become a form of direct communication, bypassing media scrutiny. But ethical communication is the bedrock of professional public relations.
PR has expanded as a practice mostly in democratic environments in which there is an open economy. By the second decade of the twenty-first century, public relations has become a major communication practice around the world.
Success in the field of PR requires a deep understanding of the interests and concerns of each of the company’s many stakeholders. The PR professional must know how to effectively address those concerns using the full scope of PR trade powerful tools.