An Attempt at Understanding Public Relations in One Take

When I see the latest scandals in the news, for example, Mariah Carey’s New Year’s Eve mishap, a couple of questions popped into my head:

How the heck is PR going to fix that?

Will they damage control by addressing the issue head on, trying to blame producer’s, or even letting the gossip simply subside?

These celebrity scandals are the most common form public relations I connect with. Honestly, the negative side of what public relations has to do was the majority of my previous knowledge involving PR. I came to understand this as public relations because I always thought advertising handled, well the advertising of a brand… for a lack of better terms, while public relations fixed the broken reputations. The news articles referring to a major product unveiling or an event supporting an organization was the blurry line between advertising and public relations in my mind. I didn’t give a campaign much thought to whether is was a public relations or an advertising department. The extent of everything I knew pretty much boils down to that. I found a pretty rad representation of this difference I think is worth checking out.

Image: Neutron, LLC. Retrieved from Ads of the World. [Blog].
A more concrete definition I gave myself was a way of controlling the external image of a brand by way of altering, fixing, and/or maintaining the way people see certain things. This definition may be accurate but after some research and basic blog following, it seems to only skim the surface of PR. There are so many other avenues to take within the PR realm.

I believe the definitions to focus on for PR are those that come from working every day PR professionals, who else knows the field better? In the blog, Heidi Cohen, she lists 31 definitions of public relations brought together all from different reliable sources. Obviously, PR has different meanings all across the board, but some shared opinions include that “PR is part of an organization’s overall marketing and communications function. PR is critical in helping to engage an organization’s diverse publics across media platforms including third-party and social media. Public relations must protect the organization’s reputation and provide crisis management where necessary. Further, PR must accomplish this with an understanding of the search optimization opportunities” (Cohen, 2011). Other than knowing and understanding this, the next step must be to get out in the industry and form my own all-encompassing definition.

All of these differing definitions equate to all the different aspects of the industry PR professionals deal with. I think that is what makes PR so special. To wake up one morning and meet with a client, to brainstorm ideas for a campaign after lunch, and to finish the day handling a client’s blog while juggling the research of a problem that occurred that morning. Not to mention the constantly changing world around us that PR professionals have to adjust to DAILY. The PR world moves with the consumers, the technology, and everything in between. The work doesn’t wait. It is always evolving with the hand it is dealt. Right now, “social media and web 2.0 are altering the entire media landscape, placing the power of influence in the hands of regular people with expertise, opinions, and the drive and passion to share those opinions” (Solis & Breakenridge, 2009, p. 1). Next year, who knows what it will be. But that’s the beauty of it.

So since I knew basically the bare minimum about public relations coming into writing this blog, I can now explain it’s definition or definitions in my sleep. But knowing what it is isn’t everything. Knowing the importance of what it can do for a business is the key. In order for companies to gain social presence, build consumer relationships, and grow an organization in general, according to Wayne Schepens in an interview from PRNewswire, “companies are increasingly becoming aware of PR’s value in relation to building brand and credibility” (Tomasso & Schepens, 2016).  Two facets of PR that are critical to control a brand’s image from the inside-out. This is important because without establishing any credibility or brand image, there is nothing for consumers’ to share, journalists to rave about, or feature stories of interest.

If I know one thing after all of this, I know that PR is a complex, evolving, and incredible industry that is worth diving into.




Cohen, H. (2014, February 28). 31 public relations definitions. [Type of blog post]. Retrieved January 18, 2017, from

Neutron, LLC. (Photographer). The difference between marketing, PR, advertising, and branding. [Digital Image]. Retrieved from apr/11/the_difference_between_marketing_pr_advertising_and_branding

Solis, B., & Breakenridge, D. (2009). Putting the public back in public relations: how social media is reinventing the aging business of PR. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press.

Tomasso, A. D., & Schepens, W. (2016, October 17). LaunchTech’s Wayne Schepens delivers PR guidance to Mach37 cohort. Retrieved January 18, 2017, from

*Hyperlinks included within-Be sure to check out the other blogs cited! 


One thought on “An Attempt at Understanding Public Relations in One Take

Comments are closed.