Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between anorganization and its publics. Public relations provides an organization or individual exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. Their aim is often to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about the company, its leadership, products or of political decisions. Common activities include speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, working with the press, and employee communication.
The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), founded by Richard Rotman, defined public relations in 1982 as, “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” According to the PRSA, the essential functions of public relations include research, planning, communication, dialogue and evaluation. In 2011/2012 the Society developed a crowd sourced definition which PRSA considers more accurate and descriptive:
Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.
It was announced on March 1, 2012 after a vote by public relations professionals. The defeated definitions were “Public relations is the management function of researching, engaging, communicating, and collaborating with stakeholders in an ethical manner to build mutually beneficial relationships and achieve results.” and “Public relations is the engagement between organizations and individuals to achieve mutual understanding and realize strategic goals.”
Edward Louis Bernays, who is considered the founding father of modern public relations along with Ivy Lee, in the early 1900s defined public relations as a management function which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures and interests of an organization. . . followed by executing a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.”
Building and managing relationships with those who influence an organization or individual’s important audiences has a central role in doing public relations.
An earlier definition of public relations, by The first World Assembly of Public Relations Associations, held in Mexico City, in August 1978, was “the art and social science of analyzingtrends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization and the public interest.”
The European view of public relations notes that besides a relational form of interactivity there is also a reflective paradigm that is concerned with publics and the public sphere; not only with relational, which can in principle be private, but also with public consequences of organizational behavior  A much broader view of interactive communication using the Internet, as outlined by Phillips and Young in Online Public Relations Second Edition (2009), describes the form and nature of Internet-mediated public relations.
- ^ Grunig, James E. and Hunt, Todd. Managing Public Relations. (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 6e.
- ^ Seitel, Fraser P. The Practice of Public Relations. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007), 10e.
- ^ Rubel, Gina F., Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers, Doylestown, PA: 1 ed. 2007, ISBN 978-0-9801719-0-7
- ^ PRSA’s Old Definition of Public Relations,
- ^ a b From the Public Relations Society of America Web site, http://prsa.org/pressroom/aboutpr.htm accessed in 2001.
- ^ From the Public Relations Society of America Web site, http://prsa.org/pressroom/aboutpr.htm accessed March 1, 2012.
- ^ Gerard Corbett (March 1st 2012). “A Modern Definition of Public Relations”. Public Relations Society of America. “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
- ^ Gerard Corbett (January 11th 2012). “Candidates for a Modern Definition of Public Relations”. Public Relations Society of America. Retrieved March 1, 2012.
- ^ David Phillips (2006) Towards relationship management: Public relations at the core of organizational development, Journal of Communication Management, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
- ^ Jensen Zhao. Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd. Ed. Retrieved from findarticles.com
- ^ Grunig, James E. and Hunt, Todd. Managing Public Relations. (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 6e. Public relations is what you do with what you know and what other think about what you say.
- ^ name=On the definition of public relations: a European view.
- ^ Sciencedirect.com