The modern definition of public relations.

The PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) is asking for comments on their three candidates for a modern definition of public relations as part of their “Public Relations Defined” initiative. The public comment period goes through January 23.

Here are the three possible definitions that were unveiled January 11 in a post on the PRSA blog.

Definition No. 1: 
Public relations is the management function of researching, engaging, communicating, and collaborating with stakeholders in an ethical manner to build mutually-beneficial relationships and achieve results.

Definition No. 2: 
Public relations is a strategic communication process that develops and maintains mutually-beneficial relationships between organizations and their key publics.

Definition No. 3: 
Public relations is the engagement between organizations and individuals to achieve mutual understanding and realize strategic goals.

I immediately gravitated toward Definition No. 2 because I can’t imagine public relations being defined as anything less than a strategic process.  Could it be that “modern” public relations is actually more of a management function? Yes, perhaps it is. And it is certainly nice to envision the relationships as symbiotic, but I think that at its core, public relations is more strategic than collaborative. I also feel that describing it as a process (constantly evolving and changing) is much more fitting than characterizing it as a management function or a simple engagement. So that’s my vote. What about you? Add your own comments here.

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