What is Public Relations?

Sep 25, 2017

PR: personal record? Puerto Rico? Personal Relations? For today’s blog, when we say “PR,” we’re referring to public relations. What is public relations? “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

What is Public Relations? - RedMoxy CommunicationsThat definition comes from the PRSA, or the Public Relations Society of America. The PRSA discusses how the definition of PR has changed over the centuries – indeed, even over the past five years! We touched on this topic in our Ultimate PR Cheat-Sheet for 2017. Check it out here. 

Let’s break down what public relations is into a little more detail. The definition above is all well and good, but what does PR really mean for you and your company? You’re about to find out.

What is Public Relations?

a strategic communication

Early PR focused on press agentry and publicity, while today’s definition of PR focuses more on engagement and building relationships. We completely agree. (We talk about the importance of building media relationships here.) However, there are a handful of similarities between the PR of yesterday and the PR of today. One such similarity is that PR is and has always been a communication process. Communication must occur and does occur. More specifically, the communication occurring is specific in nature. In yesteryear’s PR, the strategic communication had the goal of publicity, while today’s strategic communication has the goal of building relationships. At the essence, though, strategic communication is still the name of the game.


PR is a process, not an x + y = z formula. Communication inherently goes both ways (listening and speaking, speaking and listening). PR is give and take. It’s a process.

builds mutually beneficial relationships

We touched on this already, but note again that PR today emphasizes mutually beneficial relationships – we work with the media to produce publicity, and the media receives fodder for articles and reports. 

organizations and their publics

“Publics” is an intentionally chosen word for the “public” connotation – the outward-facing presence of the company. Using a word like “stakeholders” implies more of a “publicly-traded company” vibe than PR wishes to portray. Thus, the general “publics” serves its purpose well here.


Would you add anything else to this definition? How would edit this definition of public relations? Let us know here, or give us a call at 262-303-4238.