Public Relations is a very interesting field, and with its mysterious nature and common misrepresentation in the public eye, it can also be a very confusing field. I had a lot of fun conversations with friends and family members when telling them that I was going to University to study Public Relations. I was often told that I was too nice to go into the world of PR, or that all PR workers were liars. However, what I found that was even worse than all of these misconceptions about the PR industry, was the inescapable question. “Oh, so what actually is PR?”
“Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behavior. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics” – CIPR
However, Public Relations isn’t quite just that simple. Yes, you can Google and find a definition for it, writing it down and thinking you’ve figured it out. But, Public Relations is a multifaceted subject and if you do your research you will find many conflicting definitions for it. For example, Grunig and Hunt’s definition of PR (1984) focuses heavily on the emphasis of it as “communication between an organization and its publics,” whereas L’Etang (2008) describes PR as “not just a set of communication techniques” but as “the analysis of new and emerging issues that may affect an organisation.” So, you can already see that even the fundamental aspects of PR are a subject of debate, with some scholars focusing on communication as the key and others focusing on reputation and organisation affecting issues.
Further to this, there is debate over the moral ground of PR, with some, such as Grunig and White (1992), stating that “PR should play an idealistic role in society.” However, looking into numerous Public Relations case studies, we could easily find that this does not always hold true.
Therefore, I have come up with my own definition for Public Relations, and what it means to me in my life. I define PR as a multifaceted industry which attempts to communicate a company’s message to its publics accurately and appropriately, sustaining long-term positive relationships, and dealing with any issues regarding the profile of the company and it’s image in the public eye.
To me, Public Relations is the study which will teach me to help companies preserve a good image and communicate the right message to the right audience. Public Relations is the career that I want to pursue and the study that sparks my interest.