In the beginning of this year, my blog about public relations reflections included what I thought public relations was, without researching anything about it. What I have said was, “I reflect upon public relations as the idea of networking and getting ideas, thoughts, comments, suggestions, and more out in the open; where people can then analyze and prioritize among them.” I believe this to still be a true factor within the definition of public relations. Though, throughout the year I have learned about PR in much more depth. I learned the multiple different factors that are included within a public relations campaign and how to create, execute, and assess things in the proper way. I have also learned how to identify the difference between strategies and tactics much more thoroughly than what my original thoughts and ideas consisted of.
Public relations entails a great deal of organization and management within all different positions people may acquire. “The most common definitional components appear to be “management,” “organization,” and “publics.” Practitioner definitions tend to focus on “management,” “organization,” and “publics” as well.” (Hutton, 1999). This probably makes sense to most people in the PR field considering their duties may relate to managing one thing or another, which requires organization, and of course you can’t have public relations without the publics.
Another way to think about public relations is to think of it within the behaviors of people as a result of PR. “One vehicle that provides such an alternative basis for conceptualizing public relations is the symbolic interactionism of Herbert Blumer.” (Gordon, 1997). To think of public relations within a symbolic interaction is quite awkward at first. But if you think about it, PR images are everywhere. It is especially hard to avoid these images when they are constantly popping up everywhere you go. Not only is it difficult to just avoid being exposed to these images, but it is also very hard to completely ignore the images. One way or another, many images can take a toll on a person. They can be influenced by symbolism of one item, culture, idea, or another. People have their own opinions and favorite symbols, including brands and logos within clothes, companies, or other types of marketing.
The media is constantly exposing us to a great amount of images and ideas. Public relations has a vast, yet very specific definition, or definitions for that matter. Unless you examine all parts of PR, it is hard to create a concrete definition because of the many different aspects it contains. I believe PR consists of organization, management, and publics, as well as the idea of symbolic interaction. All of these ideas can have a role within each other. In fact, it seems difficult to have management without organization, or to have symbolic interaction without publics. As you can see, it is clear that public relations contains a wide range of concepts. Though, as extensive as these concepts may be, it is clear the ideas are significant factors to one another.
Gordon, J.C. (1997). Interpreting definitions of public relations: Self assessment and a symbolic interactionism-based alternative. Public Relations Review. Vol. 23 i.1, 57-66.
Hutton, J.G. (1999). The definition, dimensions, and domain of public relations. Public Relations Review. Vol. 25 i.2, 199-214.