Following 1,447 votes, hundreds of submissions, abundant commentary and nearly a year of research, we are pleased to announce the winning modern definition of public relations. Based on a public vote, held Feb. 13–26, of three candidate definitions, the profession’s choice for the modern definition of PR is:
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
Listed as Definition No. 2 in the public vote, it received 671 votes, or 46.4 percent, of 1,447 total votes.
Simple and straightforward, this definition focuses on the basic concept of public relations — as a communication process, one that is strategic in nature and emphasizing “mutually beneficial relationships.” “Process” is preferable to “management function,” which can evoke ideas of control and top-down, one-way communications. “Relationships” relates to public relations’ role in helping to bring together organizations and individuals with their key stakeholders. “Publics” is preferable to “stakeholders,” as the former relates to the very “public” nature of public relations, whereas “stakeholders” has connotations of publicly-traded companies.
You can read more about this exciting announcement in Friday’s New York Times advertising column.