A Definition of PR
It is pretty important that, as we examine PR and its automation, we should be talking about the same thing.
Lots of people try to define PR. In the digital environment, it is important to be precise and not to drift into other realms of management or to confine the practice to a future of obscurity.
The definition being used here recognises that:
Public Relations is:
The nature of knowing and understanding cultures, (namely “the way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time”) in society;
The ethically sound ability to change cultures to the benefit of the client.
This is true in consumer PR, Industry and sector PR, Corporate Affairs and HR development and all other forms of PR.
It is quite a broad definition, but it also has boundaries. Being bounded by the effects of culture is useful and prevents us being drawn into the debate about advertising or marketing in that if the activity is not to affect culture, it has no place in PR. Thus, hits on a website are not necessarily an indication of cultural change but events, actions or reactions driven by such hits are cultural effects and thereby are a PR issue.
It is much more extensive that the Grunig and Hunt (1984), definition:
“The management of communication between an organization and its publics.”
plural noun: public relations
the professional maintenance of a favourable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.
The state of the relationship between a company or other organization or a famous person and the public.
"public relations is often looked down on by the media"
"companies justify the cost in terms of improved public relations"
There is a need to more precise because the range of influences on any individual through communication and other drivers is extensive (no wifi is an example where equanimity in message reception might be missing).
This means that, when working with the organisation or the client, PR has the reasonable authority to ask of the population affected by its presence. Then we can ask:
Do we understand the culture in which the organisation has presence and influence?
and Can we change it?