Many people are confused about what is public relations. Even the editors of Wikipedia (which could be anyone) seem to have a narrow perspective. Below is the website’s definition of the practice:
“Public Relations (or PR) is a field concerned with maintaining public image for high-profile people, commercial businesses and organizations, non-profit associations or programs…”
The definition posted by Wikipedia implies that PR is only concerned with high-profile people or businesses.
Today, anyone with social media profile is practicing public relations on some level. Users are sending forth the message, “Hello cyber-world. I’m here!” with every tweet…post…update…whatever you want to call them depending on the platform like mini press releases informing their “target publics” about their activities. No matter what kinds of information people disclose about themselves, they are conducting a public relations campaign—good or bad. (A crisis communication plan may need to be implemented later, but that is a topic for another blog post.)
More and more PR professionals contact traditional journalists and influential bloggers through social media to generate buzz for their organization. Someone tweeting about their involvement in a project or interest may alert the media just as easily.
The difference between public relations professionals and the average person is that hopefully the professional has learned how to effectively manage relationships with the target audience in a positive manner. Not all truths may be perceived as good initially, but hopefully with the guidance of the skillful professional the outcome will be rosier than the starting point.
It’s not schmoozing. It’s not creating spin. A good PR pro will consult their client on the best possible way to conduct their communications regardless of the scenario.
Organizations need to be clear about what public relations is for the sake of their reputations. A name is hard to repair once damaged. It’s always easier to prevent a mess than clean it up.
For more information on what public relations is NOT, please check out this video: YOUTUBE URL.