What is PR?

According to Public Relations: A Values-Driven Approach, a book by Guth and Marsh, Public Relations is the values-driven management of relationships between an organization and their public that can affect its success.

While this definition is broad enough to cover a wide variety of PR concerns or tactics, it is not necessarily the only definition. PR means different things to different people.

What does PR mean to you? What is your definition of PR? Leave a reply and lets get the conversation started!

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21 Responses to What is PR?

  1. MJ says:

    PR means comes across to me in many different ways. Although I do agree with the above statement, of course I also believe that there are things that do deeper in the world of PR. It sometimes feels like being a parent and taking the responsibility of cleaning or preventing a mess. It sometimes feel as if you are someone’s ego, showing a someone’s accomplishments and explaining their shortcomings. Just two minor thoughts on what it means to me.

    • Whitney J says:

      PR to me is an art form. Great publicists are experts at forming and maintaining strong human bonds and relationships. PR also encompasses so many different careers. Publicists must be writers, orators, sales experts, and mentors (just to name a few) all wrapped in one. PR pros are Jacks and Jills of all trades!

      • Erica Wilson, Professional MakeUp Artist says:

        To me, a PR firm maintains a person/people, a business, or an organization’s public image. It can also help to enhance the reputation and exposure. PR also means to me the development of a brand or image.

      • Thank you Erica! Its great to have input from a client perspective. It is important for a client’s voice to be heard when working with a PR practitioner, as well as the client respecting the PR practitioner’s expertise being respected.

        Thank you again,
        FIRE PR

      • Well said Whitney! As PR pros we contribute in many ways to the development of a clients goals and their connection to their targeted audience. The reoccurring theme I have noticed in the majority of the comments has been the importance of relationships, and as you stated strong human bonds. This is essential in any business.

        Thank you,

        FIRE PR

    • Thank you for your reply MJ! I definitely think that is a part of what PR Practitioners do and I agree PR runs a lot deeper. You make a valid point we wear many hats. However, what is important and carries the most weight is “How” we wear those hats for ourselves and our clients.

      In my view PR is publicizing a person or a brand with the goal of forming a positive perception and lasting relationship with their targeted public. To enable this to happen PR Practitioners have to be strategists in order for them to facilitate effective PR efforts.

      Some skills PR practitioners should posses in communicating on behalf of their clients are below. The last two are character traits both the PR Practitioner and their clients should embody:

      Planning/Practice. PR practitioners first have to plan for communications or a potential crisis that may impact them based on the individual or organization they serve. Set goals and identifying possible crisis situations initiates the planning process in order to be prepared. Then practice for those actual scenarios to measure their effectiveness.

      Forward Thinking. Having a plan in place to quickly and effectively implementing that plan will set the stage for an immediate prepared response to public communications or crisis situations. In the age of media, words, perceptions and opinions spread within seconds, making it all the more challenging to deal with. Being proactive in your thinking and planning of your message will keep you armed and ready for a crisis. In the article Top Ten Crisis Skills for PR: Hard-Won Lessons and Proven Methods for Controlling Crises with Confidence, Author Andrew Gilman of CommCore Consulting Group states, “Think One message, many mediums”. This is very important for PR Practitioners to keep in front of mind, because when they prep a brand, CEO or leader of an organization to attempt to combat or repair crisis the message they send not only impacts their relationship and perception with their public (external), but the people that work for them (internal) as well.

      Transparent Communication. Being open and able to communicate with your clients and the public on their behalf with establish credibility for you as a PR practitioner and your clients with their public.

      Integrity and Honesty. Always operating in the truth and staying Fact-Focused will allow for trust and sincerity in representing clients and responding for them in the time of crisis. Long Lasting Trusting Relationships are founded on Integrity and honesty.

      Humility. Knowing that you don’t know everything is key. Being able to research, reach out to others and learn new things broadens your knowledge base on various levels, such as communication, techniques etc.

      Thank you again MJ for getting the discussion started!!!

      FIRE PR

  2. Love your site as well MJ. I used to live in Chicago (South Side) for a while. I love Chicago its a beautiful city!!

  3. In short, “PR is the engineering of public consent.” In this world, PR is about “publics” and the strategic approaches we take to resonate various messages with them which is where we have the opportunity to get creative! But a PR is nothing without a database, it is important that we stay connected and maintain those lasting relationships that will allow us to be effective.


    @independentlypr feel free to mention me in other PR related discussions.

    • Thank you for chiming in on the discussion. I will definitely keep you in the loop on our discussions and feel free to check back.

      I agree with your quote, “PR is the engineering of public consent.” This is truly where our opportunity to be creative surfaces. When we receive consent from the public that they have received and accepted what we’re pitching then progress for our clients, as well as our brand is being made. In PR we are nothing without the relationships were create and establish. Relationships are EVERYTHING!!!! Well Said!

      FIRE PR

  4. I agree with you on that, PR Practitioners should possess all of those attributes but I think that also if a person is going to be in PR they must also possess a passion for what they are doing. In order for PR Practitioners to perform their duties well they must have a interest in what they are doing as well as skill. I have seen people that dont love what they do and they do it half heartedly and are not as effective as they would be if they were doing it with passion.

    • Miss Couture PR,

      Having drive and passion is especially important in anything you set out to do. Your desire and love for what you do will show in the work you produce.

      Thank you for joining in.

      FIRE PR

  5. Hello Fellow PRpro’s:

    A publicist is more than someone who serves as a medium between clients and or media, it is more than just creating a “press release” , securing press and keeping the clients name out there. As a PR pro you have to constantly stay abreast to what is current/relevant which consist of constant research. You must be creative and have the ability to approach specific outlets in an original manner each & every time as it is very hard to convince others to believe in the clients, whether you are trying gain exposure for personality or product. It is definitely no easy task! All of you ladies made very valid points & suggestions, thank you!

    • JovialPublicist,

      Thank you for your great input. You were on target when you stated, “As a PR pro you have to constantly stay abreast to what is current/relevant which consist of constant research. You must be creative and have the ability to approach specific outlets in an original manner each & every time.”

      Researching what is current in the field is vital to your existence. Not knowing what is on the verge of catapulting you and your clientele to the next level may leave you behind. Also, understanding the guidelines and expectations that organizations or media outlets require you to meet is key to getting your message in front of the right people and connections.

      Thank you again,
      FIRE PR

  6. Nakeva says:

    Public Relations and the professionals with that title carry various responsibilities relative to their industry. PR brings together personality, concepts, communications, industry-specific knowledge, resources, media and brands. For example: If you are in the music business, PR should be specialized to fit a genre then focus on what’s current, relevant and who is the key audience. A PR pro in trance music may not serve well as PR for a country singer or rock band; however, the fundamentals should be there to execute simple things like press releases, media coverage, brand awareness if that is a client paying for service. The key is to make the best use of skills and resources that develop a brand, create a brand or accomplish the objectives of a plan for a specific goal. Public Relations is not about handing our flyers, sending out 50 tweets a day focused on one client or writing blog posts about the latest product line or even PR standards; it may take all of this as part of the job, but there are so many other things that happen behind the scenes, where the real work is accomplished. Tough job, not meant for everyone and can be overwhelming is you don’t have a personal circle or organization of people to communicate with and stay on top of all things PR.

    • Nakeva,

      AMEN!!!!!! Your statement is so true. PR may seem glamorous to those on the outside looking in. As you and MJ stated PR runs deeper than meets the eye. It’s a combination of learned PR skills and a solid, as you stated circle of friends and connections you can support and rely on.

      Thank you for joining in and sharing such great information!


      FIRE PR

  7. Miss_MayaJ. says:

    Public relations is the glue that sticks clients to publicists and publicists to media professionals and specific audiences to magazines, morning shows, products et cetera. Public relations is nothing more than collectively bringing people who have a common interest, idea, strategy, company or product together. It is the duty of the publicist to ensure a mutal and yet healthy relationship amongst the client(s), media professionals, and targeted audience in a positive guiding light. As a recent PR graduate, I have learned that being a publicist or jr. publicist requires three things. First research skills, next listening and lastly strong written and verbal skills in order to pitch your clients for placement. Overall,a publicist can build and strengthen a name, just take Congressman Anthony Weiner for instance guess whose going to clean up his reputation for his wrongdoings….if you said a publicist that specializes in crisis management your right. Great post. 🙂

    • Maya J,

      Thank you for joining in and Excellent input!!!

      You made the the point that, “It is the duty of the publicist to ensure a mutual and yet healthy relationship amongst the client(s), media professionals, and targeted audience in a positive guiding light.” I agree that fostering and maintaining an image and relationship with the public for your client(s) is critical in producing results. However, our true test is during times of crisis.

      In the case of Rep. Weiner, when Rep. Weiner finally chose to come clean and tell the truth, his disposition was one of remorse and regret as he took full accountability for his actions and lying. In a quote from Bloomberg.com article Weiner stated, “I came here to accept the full responsibility for what I’ve done,” The article then went on to share Weiner, 46, choked up as he addressed reporters at a hotel in New York City and stating, “I have made terrible mistakes.” This came too late for the public to respect or accept. Had Rep. Weiner started off with the truth and apologize, his credibility would have not been lost and trust from the public may not have been damaged to the extent it has been. I do think crisis management specialist play a huge role in rebuilding someone’s image, however a lot rests on how quickly the public forgets about someone’s wrongdoings when a new crisis arises.

      Thank you again,

      FIRE PR

  8. anje collins says:

    PR is about developing and managing relations with clients. Taking a strategic approach to public relations will ensure that the tatics you implement,from sending press releases to the media to communicating with your masses are the most effective. PR is about reputation the result of what you do,what you say and what others say about you. PR is the disciplineb which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour.

  9. Bola H. says:

    I agree with all of the comments shared in this thread. As a recent media studies grad still trying to learn about and break into the PR field, I just want to pose some questions. We were taught in school about what PR is, which is the same definition given in the very first post. I read in all the post about how versatile PR folk have to be, and that they wear many hats. I realize that some organizations require this of PR reps in that they have to be marketers, advertisers, or business minded people, yet I was taught there is a difference in what PR reps do. It was the fact that PR is more concerned with fostering and maintaining relationships between orgs and their publics, honest and effective communicating, and they humanity of it that drew me to the profession. So my question is, is what I learned wrong? Do I need to make sure I know business jargon and marketing strategies/theories? Is PR as defined above or is it really about a combination of various professions. In that case, is it possible to be good at all of that?

    • Hi Bola,

      Thank you so much for your observations and questions!

      You stated……….
      “I read in all the post about how versatile PR folk have to be, and that they wear many hats. I realize that some organizations require this of PR reps in that they have to be marketers, advertisers, or business minded people, yet I was taught there is a difference in what PR reps do.”

      This is definitely true; there is a clear distinction between PR and marketing, advertising etc. However, we do put on our marketing, advertising and business hats at the same time. Ultimately, we are publicizing a brand and based off of my experiences in order to do that successfully having knowledge of how to identify your clients target market (TM), what that TM likes, is looking for or is attracted to, causes you to do market research and craft campaigns to engage that TM for your client’s success.

      This bleeds over into advertising. Essentially you are publicizing a brand/client. Publicizing is informing the public of an individual, event etc. In order to attract that target market to a brand/client you have to do more that just inform, you have to in a sense advertise. The goal of advertising it to attract, engage and win over a target market or audience. This is what creates sustainability for a brand/client’s longevity.

      Lastly, you do have to have a business mind. You want to bring business savvy, the ability to negotiate deals, contracts etc. for your clients, into the picture. Prior to pursuing a master’s in management and public relations, I received my MBA, and it has helped me tremendously from a business standpoint, internally with in my company and externally when dealing with clients.

      To answer your additional questions of……..
      “So, my question is, is what I learned wrong? Do I need to make sure I know business jargon and marketing strategies/theories? Is PR as defined above or is it really about a combination of various professions. In that case, is it possible to be good at all of that?”

      No, you didn’t learn anything wrong, you learned what PR is. Being able to articulate to your clients what PR is and the importance of it is critical. Which leads me to another point, a lot of people do not fully understand what PR is and it is our job as PR Practitioners to educated them. When a potential client comes to you and says they need PR, your first question is what do you do? (What is their product/service, their history, experience etc.). You then have to discern if they are ready for PR (Able to pay for your services/what is their commitment level.) This enables you to research and develop the most effective way to promote them.

      In my view, it is important to have knowledge of the areas you mentioned., but you will burn yourself out trying to be everything to everybody (Trust me I know from experience). Developing a team that is inclusive of experts in the areas you mentioned will definitely bring added value to your company and for your clients.

      Ultimately, you have to believe in whom you represent and what you are promoting and in some cases that takes you in the direction of becoming a marketer, advertiser and businessperson, in order to craft a brand/image you feel represents not only your client, but is indicative of your company’s ability, thus creating a positive reputation of your work.

      PR is an isolated title, but requires a diverse set of skills. These are just my thoughts and opinions.

      Thank you again for your comments and questions.

      FIRE PR

  10. It sounds sappy, but I see TRUE public relations as the humanlike equivalent of an angel. PR people clean up messes (as has been stated several times throughout this post), prevent harm, provide encouragement along with advice, and they inform others. We are brokers of good will who want the best for both the organization and the public(s) it serves.

    Ironically, we aren’t seen that way by the media or hour clients often. Many just view PR as a mouthpiece for an organization, spin-doctor or as an instant-fix to some major catastrophe.

    If we think about PR in the way that we think about how we build relationships in life and treat each other (no matter what the relationship), I think it will serve both practitioners, clients and the public much better in the long run. Good relationships aren’t built overnight and people like those that have things in common with them and take the time to listen.

    That’s just my take on it.

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