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Have you ever been asked, “What do you do,” only to get a blank stare when you reply, “Public Relations?”

We sure have!

And here is why – we do a lot, and many of us do it differently. While we can all define public relations for people based on our old journalism textbooks or with the help of Google, it is time people understood it in simple terms from each of our perspectives.

So, throughout 2011, we are going to do just that. We’re asking public relations practitioners from across the globe one simple question: What is public relations?

Their answers will appear here as part of our “What is …..”series that will run on Wednesdays.

To check out past posts, please click here.

This week, Gary McCormick weighs in.

And – IT’S HIS BIRTHDAY!

Take it away, Birthday Boy!

Gary: Last year, I had the pleasure of serving as the Chair/CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, the world’s largest association of public relations professionals. So, it stands to reason that this group would have “the” definition of public relations. That would also mean that as the spokesperson, I should be able to espouse it word, line and verse.

Ironically, I found that there are as many definitions of public relations as there as facets to the work we provide for companies, organizations and clients. For me, however, public relations is the strategic support of a company/organization’s relationships and communication with its stakeholders. It’s how you react, interact and direct actions that will help to change behavior, engender trust, build brand loyalty or create momentum for a cause.

While any number of methods or tactics can support this relationship management, nothing will go as far as open, transparent and honest dialogue with the people who have an interest in your company/organization – whether it’s economic or emotional. The only downside is that business would have to have someone advise them to conduct themselves with this type of behavior.

After all, as I’ve told many a student, “Good manners is good public relations.” That alone will go a long way toward success and maybe is an easy and adequate definition.

Abbie S. Fink
Abbie S. Fink
Vice President/General Manager Abbie has been doing public relations her whole life…from organizing a picket line in 6th grade to organizing client communications today. She’s passionate about a lot of things, you’ll see. Check out Abbie's full bio

1 Comment

  1. David Landis says:

    I’ve always liked the following metaphor. When the circus comes to town, marketers place an ad online or in the paper. And PR people stage an elephant march down Market St. to create buzz!

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