Public relations is fundamentally the art and science of establishing relationships between an organization and its key audiences. Public relations plays a key role in helping business industries create strong relationships with customers. Public relations involves supervising and assessing public attitudes, and maintaining mutual relations and understanding between an organization and its public. The function of public relations is to improve channels of communication and to institute new ways of setting up a two-way flow of information and understanding. Public relations is effective in helping:
Corporations convey information about their products or services to potential customers
Corporations reach local government and legislators
Politicians attract votes and raise money, and craft their public image and legacy
Non-profit organizations, including schools, hospitals, social service agencies etc. boost support of their programs such as awareness programs, fund-raising programs, and to increase patronage of their services
Public relations in present times employs diverse techniques such as opinion polling and focus groups to evaluate public opinion, combined with a variety of high-tech techniques for distributing information on behalf of their clients, including the internet, satellite feeds, broadcast faxes, and database-driven phone banks.
The difference between Public Relations PR and Advertising is simple, you pay for Advertising. The definition of Public Relations is 'Public Relations practice is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.
Public relations is the more difficult "free" version of advertising. It turns out it's not free after all, however paying for advertising allows you to say what ever you want, public relations is different, this is when others say what they want about you.
When you are high in the search results for a search phrase, the vast majority assume you got there because the "public" put you there. This is not far from exactly why your site was in the result to begin with. Being listed on the top of a search that is relevant to your site is becoming one of the most sought after forms of Public Relations. Those who see your site on top assume you are the leader in your industry, that assumption is (and has always been) the direct result of good Public Relations work.
Public Relations may not be focused on promoting products or services, but this is where the new media comes in. The new media that is constantly being "re-understood" everyday is the internet. With it comes many "public" opinions, those opinions are available to all and when those opinions are negative you would normally put forth "Public Relations" efforts to maintain the goodwill. When a complaint or a competitor comes up before your site on the internet, it's time to begin a technical Public Relations campaign. It's also very likely a sign that other PR Media Campaigns should begin. The internet is a sign of how the public views your company, or (in many cases) how it does not view your company. If you do not show up in the search results, an effort must be made to allow the public to begin forming opinions.
As public image is important to all organizations and prominent personalities the role of public relations specialist becomes pertinent in crisis situations. Public relations agencies provide important and timely transmission of information that helps save the face of the organization. In the words of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA), "Public relations helps an organization and its public adopt mutually to one another."
Experienced public relations agencies have formulation press releases into which they can plug the company news, as well as a targeted list of publications for their industry. Truly good public relations agencies generally have a good working relationship with key reporters, boosting their chances of getting coverage. Some public relations agencies deal only with large, established clients, while smaller boutique public relations agencies specialize in certain areas.
Most public relations practitioners are recruited from the ranks of journalism. Public relations officers are highly trained professionals with expertise and knowledge in many areas, for example shareholder management during a crisis, the evolving role of the in-house public relations professional, account management skills for public relations, an introduction to financial public relations, an introduction to consumer public relations, an introduction to public relations software etc.