What is PR? Explaining and Debunking the Stereotype

By: Carman Plank

Ask the Ferris State Public Relations students “What is PR?” and they might rattle off a number of answers, but a main one that they will say is: “a planned, ethical, and clear communication process designed by top management to influence, educate and reinforce targeted publics.”

If you Google that exact question, you will find other definitions such as, “Public relations is the practice of managing the spread of information between and individual or an organization and the public.”

As a third-year public relations student, I have always struggled with defining the field and the career to people when they inquire, because it encompasses so many aspects within in a business. After pondering it for a long time, I think the biggest factor that everyone needs to take out of PR is the “R” aspect: relations/relationships. PR professionals are there to build a relationship between the company and the community, as well as the company and the employees.

When we think PR, our minds go to “spin.” Why? Because there are big named companies that use their PR professionals as people that will spin the truth to make it look better for them. What PR really is, is: “The truth told well.” This is where we refer back to the first definition of it being an ETHICAL communication process. The PR community is obligated to tell the truth about a company, and to tell it well; to look at the negatives as opportunities for their company to be better, and to display their strengths in a positive, yet humble light.

PR professionals communicate the truth from a company with the community/employees through a variety of tactics such as press releases, video news releases, social media, and posters.

With PR still being a fairly new career field, it has some time to define itself. However, I think two things should always remain prevalent in the field are the building of relationships, and the 

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About ferrisprssa

We speak the truth with compassion. We embrace diversity in all forms. We are innovative, creative, upbeat and engaged. We are the Ferris State University PRSSA Chapter! Our student-run PR firm gives students outstanding hands-on experience and professional training.
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