Public Relations: The 5 W’s

What, Who, When, Why, Where? Switching up the 5 essential questions, so you can get your answers.

What Is Public Relations?

There’s many definitions for public relations. Google says it’s “the professional maintenance of a favorable public image by a company or other organization or a famous person.” The PRSA, or Public Relations Society of America, says “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

So what do these definitions mean? In essence, public relations isn’t just the spewing of an organization’s ideas or persuasive tactics. Instead, public relations is the two way road that listens to the public, relays back to the organization, helps align the organization’s goals and values with the public, and then creates a conversation and relationship between the organization and their publics.

Who Does Public Relations Impact?

Short answer? Almost everyone. Public relations, when done right, is an effort that accomplishes the primary goal of retaining, growing, and maintaining a group of supporters, consumers, and interested parties. Public relations is a way of making connections with people who might not typically engage with an organization, as well as making sure that the relationships with their current base are always being more deeply cultivated.

Often people think of public relations as simply event planning or social media management, but in truth PR is an effort to recognize where and how an organization is positioned and how that compares to where and how an organization should be positioned in the future. Positioning embodies everything from how an organization is portrayed to external publics, and how it is regarded by internal publics, to how an organization relates to the people it currently affects, and how it could relate to the people it could one day affect.

When Is Public Relations Used? 

Public relation efforts can be implemented in order to promote a new product, rebrand an old company, reinvigorate outdated events, bring in new business, and countless other situations. Even if a small organization doesn’t have  a public relations team or plan, being cognizant of the principles and benefits of public relations is important and can really help create important contacts within a public.

Why PR?

Simply put, PR is a great way to generate business, conversations, or new interest without spending a whole lot of money. Public relation professionals are capable of doing intensive research and using it to create the most effective and targeted strategies, techniques, and tactics. PR is a way for organizations to learn more about the people that support them and create trust and a pathway for two way communication among these people.

Where does PR start?

Public relations starts with you. Every organization you support, every organization you’re unaware of, every organization you hate…their priority in order to survive must be you. This is how public relations is effective. It’s constantly aware that the continued success of an organization depends on how their publics feel about it. Which means, the most important person in the public relations sphere, is always going to be you.


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