Public relations is a term which is 200 years old this year, having first being used by Thomas Jefferson, the US president in 1807. Throughout the course of time the definition of Public Relations, PR for short, has adapted itself for many uses. As such there is no one set definition for PR to date.
Definitions of Public Relations:
One of the earliest definitions of PR was created by Edward Bernays. According to him, "Public Relations is a management function which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures and interest of an organization followed by executing a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance."'  Wikipedia, retrieved November 2007.
Public relations helps our complex, pluralistic society to reach decisions and function more effectively by contributing to mutual understanding among groups and institutions. It serves to bring private and public policies into harmony . In helping to define and implement policy, the public relations practitioner uses a variety of professional communication skills and plays an integrative role both within the organization and between the organization and the external environment.'  Public Relations Society of America, retrieved November 2007.
Public relations is about reputation - the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.'  Chartered Institute of Public Relations, retrieved November 2007.
As you can see by the three definitions above, each definition of Public Relations varies slightly depending upon the source.
The first definition comes from the popular online encyclopaedia...