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How to define public relations

This is definitely the definitive definition, maybe.

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:

How to define public relations

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

Please note:

stakeholders — with various interests in the organisation.

influencers — gatekeepers with important audiences.

publics — groups with key communicative behaviors.

Learn more about public relations.

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:

Typical stakeholders in PR.
Typical stakeholders in PR.

Cover photo by Jerry Silfwer (Prints/Instagram)


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Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, aka Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Communication Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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