According to the dictionary, PR is “the activity or job of providing information about a particular person or organization to the public so that people will regard that person or organization in a favorable way.” There are many facets that are included under the public relations umbrella. These depend on upon how the word public is defined. The public could be customers, employees, investors, suppliers, etc. You can relate to them separately or place them collectively into one single group.
Additionally, how one defines the word public depends on the nature of the occupation or what the person or organization being represented does. Therefore, the public could also include clients, potential clients, voters, members of the local community, as well as members of the media, students, parents, fans, foreign citizens, etc.
Regardless of how the word public is defined the method through which it is done includes going through nonpaid forms of communication. This includes support of arts, charitable causes, education, sporting events, and other civic engagements. Public relations can also be defined as the art of getting the client, whether that be a person, company or other organization mentioned in the various media outlets, namely print, radio, and television. It is also about relationships and a flow of communication that goes both ways. It is a part of almost everything a company does.
Furthermore, those that work at a public relations agency are hired to help build relationships with the people who can convey an endorsement through the art and science of influencing public opinion through communications. This is generally done by leveraging communication strategies in order to establish a market position through leadership and third-party perspectives and target audience buy-in.
Social media continues to become integrated into PR plans and strategy this includes Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other social media platforms as they have each become major components of PR plans and strategies. For example, since Twitter saw massive growth during 2010 and has more than 100 million accounts, PR practitioners have turned to speaking in 140 characters or less in order to cultivate relationships and communicate about their clients.
One of the most popular examples that is often offered to college students that take classes in order to prepare for a career in Public Relations:
If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign that says, “Circus coming to the Fairground Saturday,”’ that is a type of advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that is known as promotion. If the elephant then walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that is publicity. If you are able to get the mayor to laugh about it, that is Public Relations.
It is often best to have an outside agency deal with the logistics that come along with public relations and a public relations campaign. This allows for the separation of advertising, marketing, and public relations, as the three often get confused and the waters get muddied.