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In my first article in this series of Public Relations as a profession, I talked about What Public Relations Is Not- the misconceptions about Public Relations. In this second article, I shall examine what public relations is- the definition of public relations. As we have so many authors on public relations books, so we have many definitions on this all-important profession. The first definition I will look at is that given by the International Institute of Public Relations. According to the International Institute of Public Relations (IIPR), “Public Relations is a deliberate, planned and sustained effort by an organization to promote mutual understanding and goodwill between it and its publics”. The summation of this definition is that an organization uses public relations to build and maintain convivial relationship and goodwill between it and its publics.
Edward Barney, who is regarded as the father of modern public relations, defines it thus, “public relations as advising management on attitudes and action required to gain social objectives”. This definition simply tells us that the management of organizations use public relations to define attitudes and the probable actions to be taken that will yield the desired results. Frank Jefkins, an expert in public relations, defines it so: “public relations as a form of planned communication both inwardly and outwardly between an organization and its public for the purpose of achieving specific objectives to promote mutual understanding”. In a nutshell, this definition emphasizes the fact that public relations is used to promote mutual understanding between an organization and its public.
However, according to Mr. Mike Okereke, past president of Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) in a book titled: A Concise Glossary of Public Relations (1993), says, “public relations is a top management function… for corporate planning,… for positioning of organizations,…monitoring environmental trends and predicting their consequences. It is a tool for internal and external communication, for crisis management, for marketing communication for the management of good member relations, shareholders and community relations,… and good governance”. This is a self-explanatory definition as it captures all that public relations does- creating and maintaining favourable image of an organization or person, crisis management etc.
For Moore and Kalupain, in their book titled: Fundamentals of Public Relations, define the subject in this manner: “public relations is a social philosophy of management expressed in policy and practice, which through sensitive interpretation of events, based upon a two way communication with its public, strives to secure mutual understanding and goodwill”. The summary of this definition is that public relations helps to obtain understanding and goodwill.
The most popular and acceptable definition of public relations the world over is the one given by the World Assembly of Public Relations Association in Mexico City in August, 1978 which is also known as the Mexico Statement. It states: “Public Relations practice is the art and social science of analyzing trends, predicting its consequences, counseling organizations, leaders and implementing planned programmes of action which will serve both the organizations, and the public interests”. This definition is incisive, inclusive and encompassing.
However, there are four elements common in all the definitions: policy, practice, understanding and relationship. So, public relations is a proactive profession and not reactive. That is, it prevents negative events from occurring instead of allowing them to happen and react to them thereafter.
Therefore, I shall use the definition of public relations as given by the World Assembly of Public Relations which is also known as the Mexico Statement` to analyze the judiciary, corruption, religion, education and crimes in Nigeria, in subsequent articles in this series.
Dear VME readers, do you know other definitions of public relations you would like to share with me? Please, give them in the comment section as they will help to improve this article.Thank you.