What the Heck is Public Relations?

This is the excerpt for your very first post.


Before I began looking at careers in Public Relations, the image that came to mind when I thought of PR was a pretty young blond girl who through a kind personality and smile is able to give a face to the company that is employing her. Her job would be to make small talk at events and discuss how her company could benefit whomever she was speaking with. After she exited the conversation the consumer would have a new idea of what that company stood for and instead of thinking of the product or the logo they would now think of a pretty face when considering which company to buy from.

After doing some research and getting better acquainted with the idea of PR, I understand that this is not always the case; what truly makes PR special is how broad the term is. While the above situation is still Public Relations, that is just one of the many ways that PR can be accomplished. Any time that a brand is being constructed to cause a connection between a company and its audience that is PR. It is this connection that brings more customers and fans of your brand. Al Lautenslager, an award-winning marketing and PR consultant,  uses the definition “Public relations is the management function which evaluates public attitudes, identifies the policies and procedures of an individual or an organization with the public interest, and plans and executes a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.” (Lautenslager, 2013). He reminds his readers that while it is the job of a PR employee to cause an interaction with the public, a lot of that is done in an office building. This was a bit of a revelation to me, thinking of Public Relations as a job sometimes done out of the public eye. Understanding that it’s more about tactics than simply small talk.

Many people have a general idea of what Public Relations is, but sometimes it is necessary to establish what it is not. In his book Public Relations, Ron Smith talked about the common misunderstanding of the job description. It is not the job of a PR professional to lie, stretch the truth in order to create false hype, instead Smith offers that “Truth is a foundation of Public Relations” (Smith, 2013, p. 4). He also shoots down the idea of PR as a form of propaganda or insidious policy. It is actually the professional’s goal to tell the story of the company in an honest and relate-able way, not to confuse or deceive like many seem to think.

It is also important to understand that the definition of PR is constantly changing; what we think of as a typical PR job may be much different a few years from now. In a recent PRSA article about the changing profession, Kristin Hampel and Evan Boyer talk about the new tasks that will be necessary for PR practitioners in 2017 including SEO, budgeting, and creating new kinds of media (Hampel, 2017). I find this kind of growth and development within a job to be interesting and intriguing. A job in Public Relations provides a new challenge every day. It keeps the professional both keen and clever minded.




Lautenslager, A. (2003, November 17). Why You Need PR. Retrieved January 13, 2017, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/65672

Hampel, K., & Boyer, E. (2017, January 3). From the Front Lines: 4 Challenges the PR Profession Will Take On This Year. Retrieved January 29, 2017, from http://apps.prsa.org/Intelligence/Tactics/Issues/view/24/01

Smith, R. (2013). A First Look at Public Relations. In Public Relations: The Basics (pp. 1-5). New York, NY: Routledge.

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