1.0 Definition of Public Relations
The concept or idea of specifically defining the term public relations (PR) can be a seemingly impossible task that is by no mean concise. Public Relations mean many different things to different people. Public Relations or PR, in short, is quite subjective depending on what your intent or overall goal is for communicating or promoting certain information to groups of people. Viewed as a professional endeavor, public relations are most often defined as the management function that seeks to establish and maintain mutually beneficial relationships between an organization, commercial or non-commercial, and the audiences or "publics" on which the success of these entities depends. It is defined as the controlling factor that searches to form and maintain relationships between organizations, profit or non-profit and the public that are beneficial for both parties (Don Bates). The practice of PR is dedicated to complete honesty and openness in its communications and operations. The field of PR is a very essential aspect with having a perfect image. PR professionals work diligently at creating good and reliable relations between a firm and many different individuals it represents. It deals with a variety of strategies and methods.
Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers. -Daniel J. Boorstin
Public relations blossomed as a professional endeavor in the 20th Century, most conspicuously in the United States, but its roots, both philosophical and pragmatic, can be traced throughout civilization.
2.0 History of Public Relations
Public relations are both old and young. It is ancient in its foundations, rooted in the earliest interactions of people in societies long gone. It is contemporary in its expression as one of society's emerging professions. Throughout history, public relations has been part of societies separated by miles and centuries and has been practiced within many different cultural and social contexts. Professional public relations have always gone hand in hand with civilization. In their eyes, much of recorded history can be interpreted as the practice of public relations. Whereas primitive societies ruled mainly through fear and intimidation, more advanced cultures depended on discussion and debate. With the invention of writing, public relations in the formal sense took shape. Whether they were promoting their image as warriors or kings, leaders of ancient civilizations such as Sumer, Babylonia, Assyria, and Persia used poems and other writings to promote their prowess in battle and politics.
In Egypt much of the art and architecture (statues, temples, and tombs) was used to impress on the public the greatness of priests, nobles, and scribes. Ptah-hotep, the advisor to one of the ancient Egyptian pharaohs, wrote about 2,200 BCE of the need for communicating truthfully, addressing audience interests, and acting in a manner consistent with what is being said. Also, archeologists have found ancient bulletins and brochures in ancient Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq) dating to about 1,800 BCE. These publications on stone tablets told farmers how to sow crops, irrigate their fields, and increase their harvests. These were important goals for monarchs who wanted their followers to be well fed and prosperous, two requirements for a stable empire.
In the 3rd Century BCE, the philosopher Socrates of Athens taught that, rather than the relativism of the Sophists, effective communication should be based on truth. His student, Plato, carried on Socrates' work. But it was Plato's student, Aristotle of Athens, who has contributed most to contemporary communication thought. Aristotle analyzed persuasive communication and taught others how to be effective speakers, specifically by developing compelling and ethical arguments to offer verbal proofs. Aristotle's book Rhetoric remains influential...
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