Public relations (PR) is the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Public relations may include an organization or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. The aim of public relations by a company often is to persuade the public, investors, partners, employees, and other stakeholders to maintain a certain point of view about it, its leadership, products, or of political decisions. Common activities include speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, working with the press, and employee communication.
According to Edward Bernays, public relations is "practically as old as society." Some books and universities identify a Babylonian tablet from 1800 BC as the first example of public relations. They also associate audience segmentation tactics used in gospels, political promotions in Rome and logos used by ancient craftsman as being early examples of public relations. According to Scott Cutlip, there is disagreement over whether these ancient events constitute public relations or are part of its history.
Most textbooks on public relations consider the antecedents to the field to have originated during the settlement of the New World. Exaggerated promotions were used to attract settlers and the first fund-raising pamphlet, New England Fresh Fruits, was used to raise funding for Harvard. Pamphlets, media outreach and slogans were also used to spread anti-British sentiment.
Public relations as a paid profession began in 1900, when the first public relations agency, The Publicity Bureau, was founded. Ivy Lee and Edward Bernays, who are both referred to as the father of public relations, helped establish the field as a professional practice in the United States. Basil Clarke is considered the profession's founder in the UK and Arthur W. Page is considered the father of corporate public relations.
The field became more established after World War II, in part due to talent from war-time propaganda efforts moving into the private sector. Trade associations, industry publications and academic journals were developed. Some of today's largest PR agencies were founded in the 1950s and began competing globally in Europe and Asia in the beginning in the 1960s and 1970s.
The 1990s were marked by "explosive growth" for the public relations field. Internet technologies and social media changed public relations tactics, agencies consolidated and new specialties were introduced such as investor relations and community relations. The field established a degree of professionalism, though to what extent is debated.
In the United States, public relations professionals earn an average annual salary of $49,800 which compares with £40,000 for a practitioner with a similar job in the UK. Top earners make around $89,220 annually, while entry-level public relations specialists earn around $28,080.  Corporate, or in-house communications is generally more profitable, and communications executives can earn salaries in the mid six-figures, though this only applies to a fraction[need quotation to verify] of the sector's workforce.
The role of public relations professionals is changing because of the shift from traditional to online media. Many PR professionals are finding it necessary to learn new skills and to examine how social media can impact a brand's reputation.
Public relations professionals present the face of an organization or individual, usually to articulate its objectives and official views on issues of relevance, primarily to the media. Public relations contributes to the way an organization is perceived by influencing the media and maintaining relationships with stakeholders. According to Dr. Jacquie L’Etang from Queen Margaret University, public relations professionals can be viewed as "discourse workers specializing in communication and the presentation of argument and employing rhetorical strategies to achieve managerial aims."
Specific public relations disciplines include:
- Financial public relations – communicating financial results and business strategy
- Consumer/lifestyle public relations – gaining publicity for a particular product or service
- Crisis communication – responding in a crisis
- Internal communications – communicating within the company itself
- Government relations – engaging government departments to influence public policy
- Food-centric relations - communicating specific information centered on foods, beverages and wine.
Within each discipline, typical activities include publicity events, speaking opportunities, press releases, newsletters, blogs, social media, press kits and outbound communication to members of the press. Video and audio news releases (VNRs and ANRs) are often produced and distributed to TV outlets in hopes they will be used as regular program content.
Building and managing relationships with those who influence an organization or individual’s audiences has a central role in doing public relations. After a public relations practitioner has been working in the field, they accumulate a list of relationships that become an asset, especially for those in media relations.
A fundamental technique used in public relations is to identify the target audience, and to tailor messages to be relevant to each audience. Sometimes the interests of differing audiences and stakeholders common to a public relations effort necessitate the creation of several distinct but complementary messages.
On the other hand, stakeholder theory identifies people who have a stake in a given institution or issue. All audiences are stakeholders (or presumptive stakeholders), but not all stakeholders are audiences. For example, if a charity commissions a public relations agency to create an advertising campaign to raise money to find a cure for a disease, the charity and the people with the disease are stakeholders, but the audience is anyone who is likely to donate money.
Messaging is the process of creating a consistent story around a product, person, company or service. Messaging aims to avoid having readers receive contradictory or confusing information that will instill doubt in their purchasing choice or other decisions that have an impact on the company. Brands aim to have the same problem statement, industry viewpoint or brand perception shared across sources and media.
Social media marketing
Digital marketing is the use of Internet tools and technologies such as search engines, Web 2.0 social bookmarking, new media relations, blogging and social media marketing. Interactive PR allows companies and organizations to disseminate information without relying solely on mainstream publications and communicate directly with the public, customers and prospects.
Litigation public relations is the management of the communication process during the course of any legal dispute or adjudicatory processing so as to affect the outcome or its impact on the client’s overall reputation (Haggerty, 2003).
The field of public relations is generally highly un-regulated, but many professionals voluntarily adhere to the code of conduct of one or more professional bodies to avoid exposure for ethical violations. The Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the Public Relations Society of America and The Institute of Public Relations are a few organizations that publish an ethical code. Still, Edelman's 2003 semi-annual trust survey found that only 20 percent of survey respondents from the public believed paid communicators within a company were credible.
According to Scott Cutlip, the social justification for public relations is the right for an organization to have a fair hearing of their point-of-view in the public forum, but to obtain such a hearing for their ideas requires a skilled advocate.
Spin has been interpreted historically to mean overt deceit meant to manipulate the public, but since the 1990s has shifted to describing a "polishing of the truth." Today spin refers to providing a certain interpretation of information meant to sway public opinion. Companies may use spin to create the appearance of the company or other events are going in a slightly different direction than they actually are. Within the field of public relations, spin is seen as a derogatory term, interpreted by professionals as meaning blatant deceit and manipulation. Skilled practitioners of spin are sometimes called "spin doctors."
The techniques of spin include selectively presenting facts and quotes that support ideal positions (cherry picking), the so-called "non-denial denial," phrasing that in a way presumes unproven truths, euphemisms for drawing attention away from items considered distasteful, and ambiguity in public statements. Another spin technique involves careful choice of timing in the release of certain news so it can take advantage of prominent events in the news.
Negative public relations, also called dark public relations (DPR) and in some earlier writing "Black PR", is a process of destroying the target's reputation and/or corporate identity. The objective in DPR is to discredit someone else, who may pose a threat to the client's business or be a political rival. DPR may rely on IT security, industrial espionage, social engineering and competitive intelligence. Common techniques include using dirty secrets from the target, producing misleading facts to fool a competitor.
Politics and civil society
In Propaganda (1928), Bernays argued that the manipulation of public opinion was a necessary part of democracy. In public relations, lobby groups are created to influence government policy, corporate policy, or public opinion, typically in a way that benefits the sponsoring organization.
When a lobby group hides its true purpose and support base, it is known as a front group. Front groups are a form of astroturfing, because they intend to sway the public or the government without disclosing their financial connection to corporate or political interests. They create a fake grass-roots movement by giving the appearance of a trusted organization that serves the public, when they actually serve their sponsors.
"a management function, which tabulates public attitudes, defines the policies, procedures, and interests of an organization... followed by executing a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance."
In August 1978, the World Assembly of Public Relations Associations defined the field as
"the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting their consequences, counseling organizational leaders, and implementing planned programs of action, which will serve both the organization and the public interest."
"Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other."
In 2011 and 2012, the PRSA developed a crowd-sourced definition:
"Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics."
- Brand management
- Impression management
- Media manipulation
- Promotion (marketing)
- List of public relations journals
- Reputation management
- Grunig, James E. and Hunt, Todd. Managing Public Relations. (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 6e.
- Seitel, Fraser P. The Practice of Public Relations. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007), 10e.
- Rubel, Gina F., Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers, Doylestown, PA: 1 ed. 2007, ISBN 978-0-9801719-0-7
- [when?] 
- New York Magazine. "$alaries in the City." Retrieved November 19, 2013.
- "Public Relations Specialist Careers: Employment & Salary Trends for Aspiring Public Relations Specialists".
- Jacquie L'Etang (2 September 2004). Public Relations in Britain: A History of Professional Practice in the Twentieth Century. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-4106-1081-2. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- David Phillips (2006) Towards relationship management: Public relations at the core of organizational development, Journal of Communication Management, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
- Kamau, C. (2009) Strategising impression management in corporations: cultural knowledge as capital. In D. Harorimana (Ed) Cultural implications of knowledge sharing, management and transfer: identifying competitive advantage. Chapter 4. Information Science Reference. ISBN 978-1-60566-790-4
- Franklin, Bob; Hogan, Mike; Langley, Quentin; Mosdell, Nick; Pill, Elliot (2009). "Target audience". Key concepts in public relations. SAGE. p. 227. ISBN 978-1-4129-2318-7.
- Freeman, R Edward (2004), "The Stakeholder Approach Revisited", Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Unternehmensethik (Rainer Hampp Verlag) 5 (3)
- Marshall, Tim (2002). "Ethics – Who needs them?". Journal of Communication Management 7 (2): 107–112. doi:10.1108/13632540310807313. ISSN 1363-254X.
- Natasha Tobin, (2005), "Can the professionalisation of the UK public relations industry make it more trustworthy?", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 9 Iss: 1 pp. 56 - 64
- Scott Cutlip (1994) The Unseen Power: Public Relations: A History, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates ISBN 0-8058-1464-7
- Safire, William (1996) The Spinner Spun
- The Free Dictionary
- Spin Doctor a Derogatory Term That Needs to Go, Dilenschneider Says. Don Hale PR. Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
- Dear Gracie: Is ‘Flack’ a Four-Letter Word? | Beyond PR. Blog.prnewswire.com (2012-02-17). Retrieved on 2013-07-16.
- Wattenberg, Martin P. (Aug. 22, 1996). Negative Campaign Advertising: Demobilizer or Mobilizer. eScholarship Repository. UC Irvine, Department of Politics and Society. Retrieved on January 29, 2005
- Bike, William S. (March 28, 2004). Campaign Guide: Negative Campaigning. CompleteCampaigns.com. City: San Diego. Retrieved on August 3, 2005.
- Saletan, William (November 25, 1999). Three Cheers for Negative Campaigning. Slate. City: Washington. Retrieved on August 3, 2005.
- Does Attack Advertising Demobilize the Electorate? Stephen Ansolabehere, Shanto Iyengar, Adam Simon, Nicholas Valentino, 1994, American Political Science Review, 88:829-838; Winning, But Losing, Ansolabehere and Iyenger, 1996
- Edward Bernays Propaganda (1928) p. 10
- See Peter Viggo Jakobsen, Focus on the CNN Effect Misses the Point: The Real Media Impact on Conflict Management is Invisible and Indirect, Journal of Peace Research, vol.37, no.2. Institute of Political Science, University of Copenhagen (2000).
- Jensen Zhao. Encyclopedia of Business, 2nd. Ed. Retrieved from findarticles.com
- . ISBN 9780470144923 http://books.google.com/books?id=0yxPHPj5CPMC&pg=PA436. Missing or empty
- PRSA's Old Definition of Public Relations
- Stuart Elliot (March 1, 2012). "Public Relations Defined, After an Energetic Public Discussion". New York Times.
- Grunig, James E. and Hunt, Todd. Managing Public Relations. (Orlando, FL: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1984), 6e. Public relations is what you do with what you know and what other think about what you say.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Public relations.|
- A History of Public Relations, from The Institute for Public Relations
- Scott Cutlip (1994) The Unseen Power: Public Relations: A History, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates ISBN 0-8058-1464-7 .
- Scott Cutlip (1995) Public Relations History: from the 17th to the 20th Century, Lawrence Earlbaum Associates ISBN 0-8058-1780-8 .
- Lars M. Heitmueller et al. (2012) "Corporate Communication Map": Outline of an interactive Overview of the fundamental Models and Theories of Public Relations.