The Meaning of Public Relations

The Meaning of Public Relations

What Public Relations Really Means

Although public relations’ origins can be traced back to the 1800’s, PR as a practice really began to ignite at the turn of the twentieth century with the development of mass media. With the production of newspapers common place, journalists now found themselves in an environment where they could rally public support by printing the controversial truth about dominating powers of the day. The first public relations firms combated the bad press by ‘spinning’ positive stories about their clients in newspapers. This lead to PR practitioners earning a reputation as "spin doctors." To label today's PR practitioners as dishonest would be to ignore how all-encompassing and important their work has become to people and organisations of all shapes and sizes, (Cutlip, Center & Broom, 2000, p.102).

“Public Relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organisation and the publics on whom its success or failure depends”, (Cutlip et al., 2000, p.6). Essentially PR is the two-way communication between organisations and its publics. A public, in PR terms, is anyone who ever has or ever will form an opinion about the client. To be successful in public relations, a PR practitioner requires a depth of understanding of the interests and concerns of the client's many publics. These concerns must then be effectively addressed by means of publicity.

Public relations offers several advantages over advertising. It is seen as a highly credible form of promotion. The media offers a third-party endorsement that establishes the credibility of a product, organisation or person. This is the verification of a story’s ‘newsworthiness’ that the media provide when they publish a story. “The appearance in an uncontrolled news medium lends credibility to a story, because the media are neither the sender nor the receiver but an independent third party”, (Guth & Marsh, 2005, p.585). A PR...

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