Public relationsPublic Relations (or PR) is a field concerned with maintaining public image for high-profile people, commercial businesses and organizations, non-profit associations or programs.
An earlier definition of PR (by The first World Assembly of Public Relations Associations, held in Mexico City in August 1978) was "the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization and the public interest."
Others define it as the practice of managing communication between an organization and its publics. Public relations provides an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that provide a third-party endorsement and do not direct payment.Answers.com Marketing Dictionary: Public Relations. Retrieved August 7, 2008. Once common activities include speaking at conferences, working with the media, crisis communications and social media engagement, and employee communication.
The European view of PR as practice notes that besides a relational form of interactivity there is also a reflective paradigm that is concerned with publics and the public sphere; not only with relational (which can in principle be private), but also with public consequences of organizational behaviour . A much broader view of neo-ubiquitous interactive communication using the [internet] as outlined by Phillips and Young in 'Online Public Relations' Second Edition (2009) which describes form and the nature of internet mediated public relations. It encompasses social media and other channels for communication and many platforms for communication such as personal computer (PC's), Laptop, mobile phone and other mobile devices and online games machines.
PR is used to build rapport with employees, customers, investors, voters, or the general public. Almost any organization that has a stake in how it is portrayed in the public arena employs some level of public relations. There are a number of PR disciplines falling under the banner of Corporate Communications, such as Analyst Relations, Media Relations, Investor Relations, Internal Communications and Labor Relations.
Other PR disciplines include:
- Financial public relations - providing information mainly to business reporters.
- Consumer/Lifestyle public relations - gaining publicity for a particular product or service (rather than using advertising).
- Crisis public relations - responding to negative accusations or information.
- Industry relations - providing information to trade bodies.
- Government relations - engaging government departments to influence policy making
HistoryIn the United States of America, Edward L. Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud, is widely recognized as the father of public relations. In Europe and in antiquity there are many more contenders as the founders of the practice. Most notably, according to Bournemouth academic, Dr Kevin Moloney, Georgiana Cavendish, Duchess of Devonshire with her political activism, use of printed news outlets, events management and social gatherings in the late 18th Century in favour of her, predominantly, political clients, has a claim to be an early practitioner.
A conference held at Bournemouth University in July 2010  is to delve more deeply into practices of PR dating back as far as the Roman Empire.
Two hundred years after the death of the Duchess, Bernays graduated from Cornell University in 1912 and opened the first recognized public-relations firm with Doris Fleischman in 1919. As Harold Lasswell explained in 1928, "public relations" was a term used as a way of shielding the profession from the ill repute increasingly associated with the word "propaganda": "Propaganda has become an epithet of contempt and hate, and the propagandists have sought protective coloration in such names 'public relations council,' 'specialist in public education,' 'public relations adviser.' "