What is Public Relations?

Public relations involves the cultivation of favorable relations for organizations and products with its key publics through the use of a variety of communications channels and tools. Traditionally, this meant public relations professionals would work with members of the news media to build a favorable image by publicizing the organization or product through stories in print and broadcast media. But today the role of public relations is much broader and includes:

  • building awareness and a favorable image for a company or client within stories and articles found in relevant media outlets
  • closely monitoring numerous media channels for public comment about a company and its products
  • managing crises that threaten company or product image
  • building goodwill among an organization’s target market through community, philanthropic and special programs and events

In this tutorial most of our focus is on how public relations supports marketing by building product and company image (sometimes referred to as publicity). Yet, it should be noted that there are other stakeholders companies reached via the public relations function, such as employees and non-target market groups. Favorable media coverage about a company or product often reaches these audiences as well and may offer potential benefit to the marketer.

Finally, in most large companies, investor relations (IR) or financial public relations is a specialty in itself guided by specific disclosure regulations. However, coverage of this type of PR will not be provided here.

Public Relations
Advantages of Public Relations