How to define public relations

How to define public relations?

Well, defining public relations is no easy task.

Someone once tried to count the number of suggested definitions of public relations, but he or she allegedly gave up after finding 2,000+ different attempts.

Sure, this might just be an urban PR legend, but the point remains the same: There sure are a lot of suggested definitions out there.

It’s such an irony that a profession with ambitions to help humanity to communicate better should have to struggle so much.

How I define public relations

With all of those 2,000+ definitions in mind, what kind of PR blogger would I be if I didn’t take a stab at a PR definition as well?

So, here’s how I define public relations:

PR (public relations) = the strategic use of communication to develop and maintain relationships with stakeholders, influencers, and publics.

The key components of my PR definition:

stakeholders — organisations who are important.

influencers — people who are important.

publics — groups who are important.

Learn more: In What is public relations?, I outline the details of who we are and what we do as a profession.

Learn more: In How to categorise influencers, I describe how various types of influencers are typically categorised.

Learn more: In The publics in public relations, I describe how groups can be segmented based on similar communicative behaviours.

For an overview, these are the typical stakeholders in public relations:

Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash.

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Jerry Silfwer/
Jerry Silfwer aka Doctor Spin is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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The publics in public relations

The psychologist John Dewey (1859-1852) formulated the concept of publics as a result of situational stimuli.