Information activities and policies by which corporations and other organizations seek to create Attitudes favourable to themselves and
their work and to counter adverse attitudes Public relations may be administered by an in house department or by special public relations agencies or counsellor engaged for the purpose The term public relations is used at some corporations to cover all kinds of informational activities addressed to the public, including advertising; in more typical usage, it excludes advertising, This article discusses non advertising aspects, The two fields have developed separately, although in recent years a number of large advertising agencies have taken over the ownership of major public relations agencies, For the range of information services generally included in advertising.
A past president of the Public Relation Society of America once suggested, half in jest, that the practice of public relations could be defined as “what public relations people do the suggestion has merit and some obvious limitations, The field encompasses many different activities depending on the needs and financial resources of the client and the particular climate of opinion that obtains when the client organization defines its problems, On a policy-making level, public relations professionals are expected to counsel top management with respect to the early identification of significant social, economic, and political issues that might adversely affect their operations, This emphasis on issue management contrasts with earlier concerns of public relations workers, who concentrated on the identification of particular hostile or uninformed audiences considered to be prime targets for a public relations information programme, The issue management approach, on the other hand, recognizes that people of diverse social, economic, and ideological backgrounds may find themselves on common ground with respect to their attitudes on controversial public issues, A part from counselling management, public relations professionals carry out a wide range of more routine tasks designed to ensure a continuous flow of information to key public, These activities usually include the preparation of speeches and background briefing papers for major executives and a wide range of periodic reports to employees, customers, community groups, shareholders, and others interested in the current and future plans and activities of the organization in question, In addition, public relations staff personnel are expected to cultivate ongoing and friendly relations with representatives of the media, with their employers’ professional and trade associations, and with relevant government regulatory agencies and policy-making bodies.
Organizations that can afford to staff large public relations departments will often employ personnel with special communication skills, Some devote their talents to creating special exhibits for trade shows or for meetings of important OPINION LEADER groups. There is a long-term tradition for programme designed to reach students and teachers, with the intention of helping to shape the thinking of tomorrow’s leaders, Booklets and speaker programme frequently are part of the effort to reach educators and other molders of community opinion such as religious leaders, In recent years growing attention has been given to recruiting public relations personnel with expertise in dealing with the concerns of consumer groups, environmental protection organizations, and diverse elements in the population with a special interest in affirmative action programme.
Among innumerable devices and approaches available to public relations practitioners, a favourite Bernays plan was to organize citizen committees dedicated to a public purpose, which would somehow dovetail with the purposes of a client. During a 1930s flue epidemic Bernays stirred up concern about unsanitary glassware in soda fountains and restaurants as channels of infection, and persuaded various health officials to serve on a Committee for the Study and Promotion of the Sanitary Dispensing of Foods and Drinks, Its pronouncements were prominently reported in the press and on radio, Its participants were largely unaware that the committee was designed to set the stage for a promotion campaign on behalf of Dixie paper cups, a Bernays client, In such situations it seemed best for the role of the public relations adviser to remain out of the limelight. Bernays once discovered during a lunch with Lee that both were public relations advisers to American Tobacco Company, Both had held these positions for some time, each totally unaware of the other’s similar involvement. Bernays writes in his memoirs I never asked Ivy Lee what he did for American Tobacco, The result of his work wasn’t noticeable to me, nor was my work noticeable to him, When my advice called for action, it was usually the company that carried it out, This penchant for behind-the-scenes counsel makes it difficult to chronicle fully or accurately the achievements of public relations.