The Institutional Affiliation
Public Relations or PR has no single definition. Moreover, its definitions change and modernize throughout the decades. The Public Relations Society of America, for example, has a history of adjusting the Public Relations definition. The latest one was approved in 2012. It has been selected out of a number of alternatives, in particular, of three candidate terms. After the public vote procedure has been held and the jury analyzed the most relevant definitions, they final choice has been made and the current definition of the PR by the Public Relations Society of America is the following:
“Public Relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Public Relations has been defined by a number of markers and specialists in the field. Moreover, each large firm or corporation develops its own definition of PR in the sense that best suits its business principles and activity. MRM//McCann or MRM Worldwide, one of the world's top marketing agencies with offices in more than 20 countries, defined public relations as
“ communicating your organization’s message at the right time and in the right place to the right audience. With the proliferation of tools and technologies, we can measure the value of those efforts and how they align with a business' overall mission.”
Despite the progress and development of the marketing sphere, in particular, its theoretical part and definitions, there is one rather old statement which still perfectly reflects the exact meaning of Public Relations. In the book called “Managing public relations” which was published in 1984, the authors E. Grunig and T. Hunt refer to the Public Relations as to
“the management of communication between an origination and its publics.”
The above-mentioned definitions are the most widely-used and common definitions of the Public Relations. They are clear, understandable, and reveal a true meaning of the PR in marketing. My own definition of the Public Relations would be very similar to the definition by the PR Society of America, the MRM//McCann or the textbook. If I was to define PR, I would say that
“Public Relations is a process that involves communication and other marketing tools aimed at informing the public about the institution and building good relations with its publics.”
All four definitions are quite similar and have a lot in common. They are short, meaningful and share the same key words.
I assume that some definitions were derived from others. The Public Relations Society of America definition, in particular, either borrowed or shares the idea with E. Grunig and T. Hunt whose interpretation of PR is widely cited. The main reason why it is successful is its deep and significant meaning conveyed just a few words: management, communication, organization and publics. Management refers to the ability of coordination, in this case, of an enterprise to coordinate and interact with its clients. Communication implies mutual dialogue, listening, and understanding. Organization, in the content of the definition, refers to any kind of a group including business, governmental, non- and for-profit institutions, etc. Publics associates people who are linked by common interests or connect to the organization in any way.
Definition by the Public Relations Society of America is closed in its wording and content. The key words are communication process, relationship, organization, and publics. Terms organization and publics are present in each of the four definitions of the Public Relationship. In the definition of the PR Society, the term management is replaced by communication process. Nevertheless, both the management and the communication process are aimed at the same goal – well-established connection between the sender and the receiver of the message. The definition by the PR Society of America is a bit wider and includes a purpose of the communication process which is “building a mutually beneficial relationship”.
The definition retrieved from the MRM//McCann is more specific and detailed than the previous two. It shares the same idea which is a conversation with the audience. It also refers to the measuring of the communication efforts and positive results that it brings. The following definition highlights the importance of the long term results, their interaction and aligning with the company’s overall mission. The definition of the Public Relations by MRM//McCann considers company’s PR practices and business experience worldwide.
There is no doubt that Public Relations has a record number of definitions among other business related terms. It is mostly due to the fact that marketing is not an exact science and leaves a lot of room for imagination. All of its derivatives have the ability to change and adjust. Public Relations constantly acquire new meaning; its definition modernizes and advances. Each and every participant of the PR process has its own understanding and view of the activities it involves. Most marketers and PR specialists yet admit that the Public Relation Society of America definition is a “starting point” for other statements that explain PR (Cohen, 2011).
Even though all Public Relations definitions interpret the same idea, their wording depends on a few factors. They are the type of the organization, its activity, number of public and means of communication with the audience. Some of the authors consider Public Relations a marketing function, some call it an art, other think it is a strategic discipline, so on. The PR definition largely depends on the long term goals of the company, in particular, financial profit, established communication lines, feedback, popularization, and other intangible goods.
Cohen, H. (2011, March 8). 31 Public Relations Definitions. Heidi Cohen actionable marketing guide. Retrieved April 3rd, 2016, from http://heidicohen.com/public-relations-definition/