Defining public relations makes me laugh. I sit here, in a desk that is too small for my lanky, asparagus-like body, struggling to bust out a solid definition, and I can’t help but laugh. It’s absolutely hilarious that I can’t come up with a definition of my major that I feel one hundred percent confident in. How am I supposed to major in something that I can’t properly describe? Prior to reading the text, and coming to class, my definition of public relations is as follows: public relations can be defined as the management of a person or organization’s relationship with the world (or public) through its various medias. I feel that that definition is subpar, and as I write this post, in a desk that forces the role of giant upon me, I’m starting to realize why that definition lacks.
My definition fails to adequately encompass the large field that is public relations. PR is an expansive field that contains many responsibilities and functions. As I delve into the field and its wide breadth, I am finding some established basics. According to Cerinova (2016), there are five latent actions of PR: “link business strategy and communication, cope with the digital evolution and social web, build and maintaining trust, deal with the demand for more transparency and active audiences, deal with the speed and volume of information flow” (p. 5). As the mind of the public is being molded, the five actions are in full motion. A PR practitioner executes the five aforementioned basics as they build a campaign, work on a case, or strategize with their team. What interests me about this list is the word “latent”. These actions are taking part underneath the functions of PR, but should be regarded with importance. The part I find the most interesting about these five actions is how it notes the quick pace of information exchange. PR is a rapid job field where multiple things are happening all at once. So many things happen every day; it’s hard to keep your head on straight. The media today is moving faster than some can keep up with, thus making PR an inherently vital function (Comcowich, 2014). With the speed of communication increasing, new media popping up at an alarming rate, and technology’s hand laying rest on everyone’s shoulder, PR becomes a necessary discipline. Speed causes the need for more people monitoring the public’s quickly changing opinion. New media generates the need for novel forms of swaying that opinion, and technology eases the access of said media. PR has a lot of power, and is clearly a useful asset.
To further this claim, the claim of PR’s undoubted practicality, I’ll go over a prime example of a PR campaign. The National Health Service (NHS) of the United Kingdom was experiencing the grave issue of a lack of blood donations. So, in order to help fix this issue, the NHS employed the help of a communications agency called MHP Communications. This agency executed a very successful PR campaign of getting name brands and services to erase three specific letters out of their logos: A, B, and O, the three categories of blood (Leigh, 2015). This crazy idea inspired many non-affiliated brands and organizations to join the cause, due to the rise in attention in the media. The outcome of this cutting-edge campaign was remarkable. After the first week of the campaign concluded, ten thousand new donors had signed up (Leigh, 2015). So, a simple dropping of letters can pick up thousands of charitable donations. This campaign reiterates the idea of the fast paced landscape of PR, with results being achieved in high quantity in the time span of only a week. The exchange of information between the NHS and the public, information being lack of donations, was communicated so creatively and seamlessly that the public yielded only positive response. A PR power punch, if you will.
If you’re wondering, I moved to a table. It’s much more fitting this way, describing a broad field in a broader space. Through the research I conducted for this assignment, I was able to glean much needed inspiration for a more complex, fitting definition. I would define public relations to be the careful management of communication between publics and clients, utilizing contemporary media and quick response, to create a desired outcome for both the client and its many publics. Technically I could write a whole paragraph explaining the definition of public relations, but alas, I have run out of words per my assigned word count. This being said, I think I got my point across. Now that I am no longer restrained by my ignorant mind, and cramped study space, I am confident in my representation of public relations.
Cernicova, M. (2016). Redefining public relations in the 21st Century. Professional
Communication and Translation Studies, 9, 3-6. Retrieved from
Comcovich, W. (2014, December 12). The new PR landscape: fast-paced, chaotic and
Uncontrollable. Cyber Alert. Retrieved from http://cyberalert.com/
Leigh, R. (2015, June 5). Brands and street signs drop As, Bs, and Os from logos to
highlight national blood week. PRexamples. Retrieved from http://prexamples.com/