Public relations has always been difficult to describe, with all kinds of stereotypes and definitions adding to the confusion. You can help shape a new definition by participating in an international crowd-sourcing project led by the Public Relations Society of America.
First, here is PRSA’s official definition that’s been in place since 1982: “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.”
For context, here are the accepted definitions of two related disciplines: “Marketing is the process used to determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development,” and “Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience (viewers, readers or listeners) to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services.”
Since last fall the team behind the “Public Relations Defined” initiative solicited ideas and came up with three finalist definitions:
1. Public relations is the management function of researching, engaging, communicating, and collaborating with stakeholders in an ethical manner to build mutually beneficial relationships and achieve results.
2. Public relations is a strategic communication process that develops and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their key publics.
3. Public relations is the engagement between organizations and individuals to achieve mutual understanding and realize strategic goals.
Visit the PRSA website set up for this project to be part of the process. After the comment period ends this Monday an international group will convene to modify the three final descriptions that will be put to a final vote.
And some still think PR is all about party planning and publicity?