What is Public Relations?  To answer that question, I searched the Internet and found the following definitions of PR:

  • The function responsible for shaping and managing the image of a company;
  • The protector of a company’s reputation;
  • The practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.
  • The practice of creating favorable relationships between a company and its publics.
  • The practice of putting a company in the best light.

Framing Public Relations

Public relations is all of those things but I would frame it a little differently.  To  me, the best public relations  is simply this:  starting and nurturing ongoing conversations between an organization or company and the various stakeholders and audiences it needs to engage to thrive and grow.  Public relations helps an organization tell its story to the outside world; it also helps leadership and staff inside organizations understand how their work connects to the rest of the world.

Control or Engagement?

PR in today’s porous, 24-7, always on world is not so much about control as it is about engagement.  It isn’t about sending out press releases, holding events, Twitter and Facebook posts or web site hits.   Those are some of the tools  in the public relations arsenal.  PR is about  give and take:  Sharing information, taking information in, listening, and helping people understand why what you do matters and why it should matter to them.

Those of us who practice this profession need to think less about “spinning,” a word I despise.   There is far to much of that these days.  The best PR is about telling the truth, always.