Public relations is the art or science of managing the reputation of companies, organizations, individuals and groups of people. It is the proactive management of relationships with various relevant 'publics'.  Every business – from solo entrepreneur to international corporation – relies on its reputation for its continued survival, for the ongoing patronage of its customers and to win new customers away from its competitors. Every business really needs to manage its public relations.


Some people might think that the proactive management of public relations is relatively recent; perhaps related to the emergence of TV, radio and newspapers.  But it is well documented that Julius Caesar used concerted public relations campaigns throughout his career to maximize both his reputation and chances of becoming the next Roman Emperor. These public relations campaigns, he believed, were a very significant element in finally becoming the Roman Empire's leader.


In truth public relations has been practiced for as long as one person or group has desired to influence the perception that other people or groups hold of them. Public relations became easier to orchestrate over wide audiences with the emergence first of newspapers, then radio and television.


The job of the public relations officer became largely one of finding ways to persuade or convince journalists, editors and program producers to feature news, stories, features and interviews about their company, their product or one of their key people. This had to be done in a clever "non-advertising" way, that nonetheless enhanced the reputation in the minds of massive national and sometimes international publics.


In more recent times, the reputation of public relations itself has suffered badly due to politicians trying to "spin" stories to the media. Spin is a very bad public relations technique, which ultimately backfires because the media and the public can nearly always tell when they are being lied to. And the end result is a worse reputation than before the deceit was attempted.


For public relations to work successfully in the long term it has to be based on fact and truth. Of course the public relations expert will present these in the best possible light. But in the long term both the person, company or organization or business profiling itself through public relations – and the people or businesses on the receiving end of the public relations activity – must both perceive themselves to be benefiting from the exchange of public relations information.


Some individuals are extremely good at conducting their own public relations. Most blue chip companies and celebrities hire the services of professional public relations agencies or public relations consultants that have the expertise and the available time to orchestrate public relations campaigns for them freeing up the chief executives to concentrate on running their businesses.  Some smaller companies and individuals also use public relations companies while others – particularly in their early years where available cash is limited – learn the basics of public relations themselves and become their own highly effective public relations officer.

In recent years, new 'Media' for informing and conversing with publics have become very significant in public relations terms. Often collectively called 'social media' these involve high profile interactive media like Twitter and Facebook for personal business, LinkedIn for business and a plethora of smaller and special interest web communities. All of them enable two-way broadcasting of messages.


Creating a strong positive public image through public relations not only helps to differentiate a company or business from its competitors; without effective public relations in place, many a company has been completely wiped out by a relatively small disaster or negative event. Those with a strong public image and with the media on-side as a result of long-term accurate and truthful public relations activity are far more likely to be able to overcome the effects of a negative event.


As with all disciplines there are good public relations practitioners and bad public relations practitioners. Sadly, according to many media editors, journalists and program producers the number of bad and not so good public relations consultants and agencies seem to outnumber the very good public relations companies.



I found this on the web and thought it was a great article.  Unfortunately,  I mistakenly deleted its author and source — so I apologize to the author.  So if this is your article, please leave a comment reply so that I can give you credit . . . . and kudos for a great article!

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