What is PR? It’s nuts…

Posted on 06/03/2012


Spin doctors? Shady lobbyists? Max Clifford? Social media gurus? Ab Fab? David Cameron?

PR’s a flexible, changing, beast and is often defined by those who want to attack it as an industry. And it doesn’t help that if you ask a PR person how they would define PR, you’ll probably get a different response everytime.

So, you have to applaud the efforts of the Public Relations Society of America who have taken it upon themselves to definitively answer the question, what is PR?

And their answer?

Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.

Excellent. That’s settled then.

Well not really. While the PRSA are to be congratulated on a thorough, consultative and open process to arrive at this definition it still leaves much to be desired.

For a start, does anyone (who is not a PR) really understand it?

Surely we should be trying to say something which is more accesible? More pub talk. Or in modern communications terms, maybe even an infographic.

So here’s how I’d work this definition into a pub conversation – and for those who prefer a visual explanation, the bar nut diagram may help. Comments welcome!

So what is PR then?

PR is about delivering a plan to bring together organisations and different groups of people – so that everyone benefits.

How do you do that?

That depends what group of people you’re trying to reach, but there are loads of ways, from social media to TV news and getting a story or feature in print, through to actually staging events or arranging meetings. At the end of the day we’re trying to start conversations as the first step to creating some kind of change.