Friday, April 28, 2006

Definitions in Public Relations

I am working on the value of public relations and need to work on definitions. So I thought I would blog them as they emerge from the studies.

Public Relations is that complex whole which creates cultural space for an organisation including knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society to lever values for organisations though the creation of effective relationships.

Cognitive psychologists say that we carry a model or personal image of the world, relationships and other concepts around with us. We have several such models and apply the most relevant to the context of the moment (which I call a 'social frame').

As the senses provide information we adjust these perceptions to arrive at cognitive consistency, (and resolve cognitive dissonance).

From a PR perspective the role public relations plays is in identifying the tokens and values within cultures that have sufficient resonance with a person's perceptions (when they use their senses e.g. read something or hear something etc.) in context such that they pay attention.

The PR process then has to offer tokens and values in an appropriate social frame which adds the campaign 'messages' to the understanding or personal model of the recipients. When this is done in such a way that both the organisation and the recipients gain an added value or understanding, the PR campaign will have been effective.

In this way, the nature of public relations creates an understanding in the mind of publics that is new but of the model or personal image of the world, relationships and other concepts around by the target public. This is new 'cultural space'. Examples such as big brands, political movements and religions are the mega stars of this concept but it works just as well for small organisations too.

Both parties will have a new understanding and new values. On the one hand the organisation will have gained an empathetic understanding and relationship with the recipients (publics) values and the recipients will better understand the organisation and messages.

Picture: Andes Web Ring


  1. Anonymous8:04 am

    Just what the world needs. Another definition of public relations.

  2. Perhaps there is a case for concepts that are broad enough to cover all the domains of practice. Thanks for the comment.