Public Relations – Definition

Cite this article as:"Public Relations – Definition," in The Business Professor, updated November 26, 2019, last accessed November 26, 2020,


Public Relations Definition

Public relations (PR) refers to a field that is concerned with the management of how information about an individual or a company is spelled out to the public.

A Little More on What are Public Relations

Every individual or business entity which operates in the public are subject to having their information and details disseminated to members of the general public. Although public relations work as a field in itself, any attempt by an individual or company to portray itself in a designated way is also termed public relations (PR).

Public Relations and Corporations

Public relation is done to portray the person or entity in question in the best light possible, even if the real truth is absolutely different from what is being portrayed. Although it might sound like advertising, PR focuses solely on portraying an individual to the public in a way that they can still be able to receive public support. This is done by painting the company’s or person’s image in a way that is appealing but also organic, and also by generating good press about such an entity from independent sources. In most cases, the company or the person would make recommendations so good that no-one would want to disagree with them, and this would result in a lot of public love and support. Public relations didn’t have much meaning until the mid-twentieth century; now it’s one of the fastest growing industries in the United States.

The importance of PR cannot be overemphasized, especially in a company or a firm. It becomes very much important when the stocks of a firm are traded publicly and also when the public’s confidence and trust in a company is the building block behind the price and performance of a business entity. PR professionals have a number of tasks that they take care of in a business setting. Asides from maintaining media requests, information queries, and looking at the concerns of shareholders, these professionals also craft and manage their company’s or corporation’s image to soothe public eyes. In some cases, PR professionals can attack rival brands by painting a bad picture of them (known as negative PR), but this approach is always against a firm’s code of ethics.

Crisis and Public Relations

A PR professional is also employed to manage a firm’s reputation in the eyes of its customers and potential clients. For example, in a 2012 PR crisis involving Chic-fil-A, the restaurant chain had to report emergency statements backing up their standings on homosexual marriage after a Chic-fil-A executive bashed the act. Such an act which aimed to reduce public pressure on the firm and also bring it back to its feet as a notable restaurant chain is a good representation of a PR goals. After they took this action, their sales increased significantly. Nowadays, companies can hire outsourcing PR agencies, or even build an in-house unit.

A firm is always looking for ways to impress members of the public, and the term ‘public’ in this case is relative. It will want to portray itself as impressive and satisfying to investors and shareholders, by creating and arranging materials which they know will capture the interest of shareholders. Also, a firm which sells products to consumers might preach non-stop on the importance of durability in the country, as well as the importance of creating genuine products. Their statements might not actually feature their products, but in doing so, people will get the picture that they’re trying to paint –that is they’re fighting to make sure that all products that get into the market are genuine– and thus troop in to shop with them, as they believe they’re actually doing what they’re fighting for. Sometimes, PR professionals will reassure customers during seasons of crisis, like when Target Corp. offered a $10 million settlement to its clients after a 2013 credit card hack in an attempt to restore good faith or the promotion of a lifestyle that would increase the attractiveness of a firm’s good or service. Companies also create PR to attract potential investors; in this case, start-ups are advised to engage in good public relations, as well as rapidly expanding companies.

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