What even is PR?

¡Hola amigos!

If you’ve read the “about me” page on this blog, you’ll know I’m a former languages student studying for a Masters in International PR.

After graduating, I knew that I wanted to do a Masters but I didn’t know what in. Marketing? Business? Advertising? They all sounded like great options, but then I came across PR. It would combine all of the above with events management, corporate communications and more, all with an international focus that would enable me to tie in my love of languages and other cultures. This was the course for me.

However, when asked the question: “what is PR?” on the very first day, I suddenly realised I literally had no idea. So, now 5 months in to the Masters, let me tell you what I’ve figured out so far.

PR defined

There is no universally used definition for PR, but the CIPR’s (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) definition is a good place to start. They state:

“Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.”

Summed up, PR is important because no matter the size of an organisation, its success and survival is dependent on its reputation and it is the role of a PR practitioner to ensure this is the case.

PR isn’t a new phenomenon

According to one of the pioneers of PR, Edward Bernays, “The three main elements of public relations are practically as old as society: informing people, persuading people, or integrating people with people.”

It is thought that PR has ancient origins, dating back to the times of Plato, Aristotle and Julius Caesar. Nowadays, most textbooks highlight the founding of the Publicity Bureau, a publicity agency established in Boston in 1900 by three former newspapermen, as the beginning of modern PR practice.

PR, in the form of propaganda, played a huge part in rallying support during the World Wars, and soon after, the newly established sector began to spread from the US to Europe. From this point, the profession has made exponential advancements, with the introduction of degree courses, international agencies and chartered institutions, such as the CIPR.

In recent years, the broadly accepted introduction of social media has played a huge part in the progression of the field of Public Relations, although the PR practitioner’s role is by no means restricted to this area.

PR is everywhere

It’s no wonder I had no idea what PR was when it encompasses so much. Crisis communications, media relations and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) are just a few areas a PR practitioner can work in. What I hadn’t realised is that these roles are required in pretty much every sector: from engineering to education, technology to tourism. PR is everywhere.

So, next time you see a press conference on TV, enter a competition or bump into a polar bear on the tube, remember that PR practitioners have made a significant contribution to its execution and success.

¡Hasta la próxima!

Zoë

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