Public relations: You’re already living it

Can you be a public relations practitioner? What if I told you that you already are?

Woman in green dress presentingThroughout your life, you practice some of the basic tenets of public relations. In its most basic form, public relations is the process of favorably promoting an organization or individual to other organizations or individuals.

The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations further as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

In a blog post, Gerard Corbett, immediate past chair of PRSA, stated: “Simple and straightforward, this definition focuses on the basic concept of public relations – as a communications process, one that is strategic in nature and emphasizing ‘mutually beneficial relationships.’”

The key phrases are “communications process” and “mutually beneficial relationships.”

Public relations professionals employ several practices to achieve these goals. They:

  • send out press releases,
  • stage special events,
  • take and post favorable pictures and videos,
  • provide backgrounders, and
  • speak in public.

If you, too, are employing these practices to favorably promote yourself or others with the goal of building or maintaining mutually beneficial relationships – and you are – you are practicing public relations.

How many of you are married or have a significant other? When you speak with your spouse or your significant other, is your goal strategic in nature and emphasizing a mutually beneficial relationship?

Congratulations. You’ve been practicing marital PR.

How many of you have a boss or are a boss? Are discussions within your organization strategic in nature and emphasizing a mutually beneficial relationship?

If so, you have been practicing organizational PR.

Of course, marriage and jobs are internal relationships. PR professionals primarily focus on external relationships, but the concept remains the same.

So let’s look at external relationships. Have you ever sent out a wedding or birthday party invitation? Congratulations! You have sent out a personal press release. A press release – a staple in the PR arsenal – contains Who, What, When, Where and Why or How – the Five Ws and an H. Does not an invitation contain the same information?

Once you sent out the invitations – press releases – to a party or wedding, I bet you had a hand in organizing and executing  the party or reception. Did you cook the food or hire the caterer? Did you blow up the balloons or hire a decorator? Either way, congratulations! You have staged a special event.

Did you photograph, videotape or make a scrapbook of the event and share it? To what end? To show what a good time was had by all. To show the love that you shared as a parent, spouse, son, daughter or significant other.

Bust of Julius Caesar from the British Museum

Bust of Julius Caesar from the British Museum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By doing so, you are a modern-day Julius Caesar. Larry Litwin, associate professor at Rowan University and a PRSA fellow, cites Julius Caesar as one of the first practitioners of PR. Julius published the first campaign biography, “The Gallic Wars,” in 50 BC to persuade the Roman people that he would make the best head of state.

Your video, photos and scrapbook of your event promote you like Caesar did.  Except instead of persuading the masses that you’d make the best head of state, you’re persuading others that you’re a loving spouse or parent.

How many of you have prepared a resume? Congratulations. You have compiled a backgrounder on yourself to let others know what you’ve accomplished and to persuade them that you can accomplish even more on their behalf.

Have you ever stood around the water cooler telling your buddies about how great your kid did in Little League? Have you discussed a strategy during a business meeting? Did you discuss your day at the local bar with your friends? You have been practicing public speaking.

Throughout your life, you favorably promote yourself with the goal of building or maintaining mutually beneficial relationships. You send out press releases, stage special events, take and post favorable pictures and videos, provide backgrounders and speak publicly. You are a public relations practitioner. Perhaps not a professional PR practitioner, but a PR practitioner nonetheless.


Tom Pfeifer is the managing partner and chief strategist for Consistent Voice Communications. Reach him at Tom@YourConsistentVoice.com.

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