Loading
Nota de Estudos
Study Reminders
Support
Text Version

The Function of Public Relations

Set your study reminders

We will email you at these times to remind you to study.
  • Monday

    -

    7am

    +

    Tuesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Wednesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Thursday

    -

    7am

    +

    Friday

    -

    7am

    +

    Saturday

    -

    7am

    +

    Sunday

    -

    7am

    +

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) adopted the following definition of public relations that helps identify its purpose:

“Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” [1]

The PRSA goes on to clarify the function of public relations.

Decisions:
Public relations helps our complex, pluralistic society to reach decisions and function more effectively by contributing to mutual understanding among groups and institutions.

It serves to bring private and public policies into harmony.

PR and Institutions:
Public relations serves a wide variety of institutions in society such as businesses, trade unions, government agencies, voluntary associations, foundations, hospitals, schools, colleges and religious institutions.

To achieve their goals, these institutions must develop effective relationships with many different audiences or publics such as employees, members, customers, local communities, shareholders and other institutions, and with society at large.

PR and Management:
The managements of institutions need to understand the attitudes and values of their publics in order to achieve institutional goals. The goals themselves are shaped by the external environment.

The public relations practitioner acts as a counsellor to management and as a mediator, helping to translate private aims into reasonable, publicly acceptable policy and action. [2]

The public relations field has grown to encompass the building of important relationships between an organization and its key publics through its actions and its communication.

This perspective defines the field as a management function and offers insight into the roles and responsibilities of public relations professionals.

The PRSA definition, however, is not perfect:

Harmony
It requires public relations “to bring private and public policies into harmony.” [3]

In reality, we know that the relationships an organization has with all of its publics cannot always be harmonious.

Conflicting Interests:
This definition obligates us to act in the best interest of both the organization and its publics, which could be logically impossible if those interests are diametrically opposed.

A few examples would be class action litigation, boycotts, and oppositional research and lobbying.

Despite the negative nature of those relationships, they still require public relations management and communication.

A plethora of terms has come to be associated with modern-day public relations practice. Because of the disreputable beginnings of public relations, it is often the case that organizations will choose to name their public relations function by another moniker.

The term corporate communication is the most common synonym for public relations in practice today, [4] followed by marketing communication and public affairs.

Corporate Communication:
The term corporate communication is a synonym for public relations, although some scholars argue that corporate communication only applies to for-profit organizations.

However, we view corporate communication as a goal-oriented communication process that can be applied not only in the business world but also in the world of non-profits and nongovernmental organizations, educational foundations, activist groups, faith-based organizations, and so on.

Public Relations:
The term public relations often leads to confusion between the media relations function, public affairs, corporate communication, and marketing promotions, leading many organizations to prefer the term corporate communication.

The key component of effective public relations or corporate communication is an element of strategy.

Many scholars prefer to use the phrase strategic public relations to differentiate it from the often misunderstood general term public relations, or “PR,” which can be linked to manipulation or “spin” in the minds of lay publics.

To scholars in the area, public relations is seen as the larger profession and an umbrella term, comprising many smaller sub functions, such as:
1
Media relations
2
Public affairs
3
Investor relations.

Although the public relations function goes by many different names, it is essential to understand that it is a unique management function that contributes to an organization’s success through its focus on developing and maintaining relationships with key publics.

Those publics are generally:

It is also important not to confuse the overall purpose of public relations with its sub functions, such as publicity and media relations.
1 Employees
2 Financial stakeholders or shareholders
3 communities
4 governments at many levels
5 The media.

Academics tend to use the term public relations, whereas professionals tend to prefer the term corporate communication.
[1] Public Relations Society of America. (2009a). Official statement on public relations. Retrieved February 6, 2010, from http://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/publicrelationsdefined/Official Statement on Public Relations.pdf
[2] Public Relations Society of America. (2009b). Public relations defined. Retrieved February 6, 2010, from http://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/publicrelationsdefined
[3] Public Relations Society of America. (2009a). Official statement on public relations. Retrieved February 6, 2010, from http://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/publicrelationsdefined/Official Statement on Public Relations.pdf
[4] Bowen, S. A., Heath, R. L., Lee, J., Painter, G., Agraz, F. J., McKie, D., et al. (2006). The business of truth: A guide to ethical communication. San Francisco, CA: International Association of Business Communicators.