The words “public relations” (PR) are pretty self-explanatory. It’s easy to figure out that it has something to do with relating to the public. The deeper you dig into what exactly PR is, the more clear the idea becomes. Before this class started, I thought PR was just how a company presented themselves to the public, and how they interacted with their clients. After doing some research, I know that along with that, it is also about building and maintaining relationships between a company and the public (About PR). PR is ever changing as technology advances, and it dates back to the early 20th century (Public Relations).
Public Relations is all about “anticipating, analyzing and interpreting public opinions, attitudes and issues that might impact, for good or ill, the operations and plans of the organization” (About PR). This means that they don’t often create new news, they work with what is already going on in the world and spin it for the benefit of their organization. This is done through research, planning and implementing the specific organization’s efforts.
Since the beginning, PR has been closely associated with propaganda, which is an association that people in the field have been trying to get rid of. Propaganda is much more manipulative than PR. PR isn’t so much about persuading people one way or the other, but about making sure that the company or person is showing their best side, and putting their best foot forward.
The difference between propaganda and PR becomes especially confusing when it comes to politics. The idea of public relations seems like something that would only be necessary for big companies with lots of customers, but that couldn’t be further from true. One singular person could need a PR team, such as President Eisenhower. Eisenhower knew that one of his biggest obstacles was going to be making sure the people understood why he was doing what he was doing (Parry 12). People on his team often got frustrated with how much he worried about PR, however, “It is not that Eisenhower viewed public relations as more serious than the development of the H-bomb, but rather, he saw public relations as one weapon that could eliminate its use” (Parry 12).
Eisenhower knew that putting the right foot forward, and getting the information out to the public, could be just as beneficial as creating a bomb. Because of this, he created the United States Information Agency (USIA). This was made because Eisenhower believed he could “end the cold war ‘without bloodshed’” (Parry 12). The USIA was created to essentially handle Eisenhower’s PR efforts.
It is obvious that PR is important. Without it, companies would struggle to connect with their customers, and would not be as equipped to get themselves out of sticky situations. If one of the most loved presidents in American history knew the importance of PR, it isn’t hard to believe that it’s a necessary part of any company.
About Public Relations. (2017, April 24). Retrieved September 05, 2017, from http://apps.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/publicrelationsdefined/
Parry, P. (2014). Eisenhower: the public relations president. Retrieved from http://ebookcentral.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu
Public Relations Through Time. (2012). Retrieved September 05, 2017, from http://www.ipr.org.uk/public-relations-through-time.html