My first public relations class was at Illinois State University called Intro to Public Relations, taught by the passionate and ever-so-connected Tom Lamonica. Our first assignment was to get into small groups and create our own definitions for what we thought public relations meant. After every group had created their descriptions, we shared with the class. Every group developed their own and vastly different meanings.
Let’s fast forward to my second capstone class, Public Relations Management: Campaigns. Our professor, Dr. Becky Hayes, who was (and still is) adored by all, asked us if our friends and family really understood what we were studying. We came to a consensus that most knew bits and pieces of what a day in the life could look like, but the understanding of it as a whole was slightly outdated and lacked real meaning. Although I’ve discovered that Abbie’s mom has a pretty good take on the industry.
I recap to you the two class discussions to serve as reminders that those outside of the industry might not have a good grasp of what public relations is. In addition, those in the industry have different perspectives of what public relations is because of how broad it is.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) has equipped professionals with a modernized definition that focuses on the basic concept of public relations. “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This definition is great to memorize, recite and then expand on when explaining PR to others.
For me, public relations is a tool to help businesses reach their goals and objectives like raising awareness, managing a crisis, earning media coverage, increasing sales, and more by using specific tactics like writing news releases, pitching and securing stories, managing social media accounts, serving as a spokesperson, writing speeches and assisting in events, photo-shoots and interviews. Public relations can be creating a groundbreaking campaign that puts a new business on the map or rejuvenating a well-established business to reach a new audience.
As most in the in the industry know, the job duties don’t stop there. As technology and our experience advances, so do our job descriptions. There is something new to be learned every day. What changes have you noticed changes in the profession? How do you define public relations?