What Exactly Is Public Relations?

Most people have heard of public relations (PR) and publicity, though many don’t know what it is exactly. There’s an old saying that describes it well enough, though no one remembers who first said this.

“If the circus comes to town and you paint a sign saying, “Circus coming to the Fairgrounds Saturday,” that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.”

We’ve taken the liberty to update this description to add, “If the elephant gets its own twitter account, meme, or Facebook Group, that’s social media.”


It’s Official

The Public Relations Society of America defines PR this way: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Oh sure, but the elephant analogy is much more fun.