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The following is from the Canadian Public Relations Society Vancouver (CPRS):
What is public relations?
Public relations is the strategic management of relationships between an organization and its diverse publics, through the use of communication, to achieve mutual under
standing, realize organizational goals, and serve the public interest.
What do you do in public relations?
Most PR professionals work in one of three broad segments: in-house, consultancy, or agency. Those working in-house are employed directly by a corporation or organization and typically provide strategic and practical communications support. Consultants are self-employed, engaged by corporations or organizations on short- or long-term contracts. PR agencies are larger than a one-person consultancy and are paid by corporations and organizations to conduct PR on their behalf, sometimes on retainer and sometimes for specific initiatives.
PR activities include communications planning, issues management, media relations, investor relations, corporate branding, community relations, writing, producing business materials, special events planning, crisis communications, video production, social media management, research and evaluation. Some PR professionals specialize in one or a few activities while others are generalists.
How does public relations differ from marketing and advertising?
These three fields are related and often work in cooperation. Marketing and advertising are concerned with the direct sale of products or services and the development of markets, while public relations is about communicating with stakeholders and reputation management. Marketing specialists identify markets for their employer’s products and services, then develop and implement programs to create and maintain demand for them. PR specialists identify people and audiences who have a relationship with their employer, explore what that relationship is, then develop and implement communications programs to connect with those people.
Advertising is a specialized area of marketing that involves identifying the media to which people interested in a product or service are attuned, then paying for guaranteed placement of advertising in those media. Media relations is a specialized area of PR that involves pitching stories to identified media and responding to media inquiries. In this arena of PR a company or agency does not pay for media placement and it can influence, but not prepare or control, the output with those people.
What is the role of public relations in the workplace?
Public relations practitioners are responsible for an organization’s reputation and profile and for communicating with the organization’s stakeholders. In-house PR practitioners are often in management positions. Whether working in-house, as a consultant or with an agency, PR practitioners work to build solid relationships based on goodwill and honesty.