“What is” Wednesday – What is Public Relations? Anne Buchanan’s Take

Each Wednesday, HMA Time asks a guest blogger one simple question – What is….?

Thus far, we’ve asked folks from across the globe to tell us “What is public relations” to them.

This week, we ask this question to Anne Buchanan. Buchanan is president of Buchanan Public Relations in Philadelphia and a founding member and a past-president of the Public Relations Global Network (PRGN), where she remains on the executive committee. She is also vice president of the Philadelphia chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and sits on the board of the World Affairs Council of Philadelphia is active in the Philadelphia Public Relations Association.

So, Anne, what is Public Relations?

I’ve always been a fan of simplicity. And for years, I struggled to find a succinct response to the question What is public relations?

Some years ago, I landed on one that I liked. It was broad enough to cover the full range of PR activities, but clear enough that an engineer (especially a mechanical one!) could grasp the concept. It went like this:

Public relations is building bridges with audiences that are important to you.

I still think it works as a good, general definition. But these days, when social media is changing – on a profound and fundamental basis – the way we interact with one another, I find it lacking. It fails to capture the all-important goal of engagement. I suppose if I wanted to address that, I could return to my original bridge-building analogy and add these words: and get them to meet you somewhere on the bridge.

More and more, though, I find the notion of public relations can be distilled down to two simple concepts:

Do the right thing. And make sure the right people know it.

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at Mar 2, 2011

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