By Mohammed Khelef
Dictionary.com describes Public Relations as the art, technique or profession of promoting such goodwill that is exactly what a public relations office (PRO) does. It is the office that specializes in promoting news.
The term Public Relations was first used by the US President Thomas Jefferson during his address to Congress in 1807 (in this use, however, the intended meaning seems to be closer to “policy” than the implication of communications central to the contemporary definition).
One of the earliest definitions of PR was created by Edward Bernays. In his book, History of Public Relations, he says that, “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.”
Today, Public Relations is defined as a set of management, supervisory, and technical functions that foster an organization’s ability to strategically listen to, appreciate, and respond to those persons whose mutually beneficial relationships with the organization are necessary if it is to achieve its missions and values.” (Robert L. Heath, Encyclopedia of Public Relations).
There is a school of public relations that holds that it is about relationship management. Phillips explored this concept in his paper “Towards Relationship Management: Public Relations at the Core of Organizational Development” which lists a range of academics and practitioners who support this view. So it is for the benefit of academics that we have PRO in our universities.
As said in one article about PR in the wikipedia.org, modern Public Relations evaluates a product or individuals public perception through market research. Once data is collected and challenges are identified, solutions are presented in a campaign strategy to meet goals. Techniques may vary from campaign to campaign but some standard tools used are; press releases, press kits, satellite feeds, pod casts, web casts, wire service distribution of information and internet placement. Others include entertainment product placement (television, events, and celebrity), product launches, press conferences, media seminars, producing events, speechwriting, establishing partnerships and more is often required.
According to Don Sheelen: “Examples of the knowledge that may be required in the professional practice of public relations include communication arts, psychology, social psychology, sociology, political science, economics, and the principles of management and ethics. Technical knowledge and skills are required for opinion research, public issues analysis, media relations, direct mail, institutional advertising, publications, film/video productions, special events, speeches, and presentations.”
As further described in wikipedia.org, although public relations professionals are stereotypically seen as corporate servants, the reality is that almost any organization that has a stake in how it is portrayed in the public arena employs at least one PR manager. Large organizations may even have dedicated communications departments. Government agencies, trade associations, and other non-profit organizations commonly carry out PR activities. We have, therefore, every reason to have PRO in our universities.
In the Art of Public Speaking (Lucas: 1995), Public Relations is explained as being an important management function in any organization. An effective communication, or public relations, plan for an organization is developed to communicate to an audience (whether internal or external publics) in such a way the message coincides with organizational goals and seeks to benefit mutual interests whenever possible.
A public relations specialist is an image shaper. Their...