What Is Public Relations?

Public relations is the process used to help create an image for a company, brand, or individual. Many companies use a team of publicists to help build up the reputation of the company using a variety of outlets. Celebrities also have publicists who handle questions from magazines and radio shows, and help control situations that may not be favorable to the celebrityís reputation. The basis of public relations is how the public relates to the company, brand, or individual and how they relate to the public.

In order to gain a reputation, a business or individual must present themselves to the public in a way that makes them likeable. A company can have a great product or an individual be full of talent, but without a public reputation they will struggle to produce an income. In some cases, as in politics, a candidate must present themselves to the public in order to gain votes. Anything that helps relate the person or brand to the public is public relations.

Public relations can be positive or negative. In some cases, itís a little bit of both. If a celebrity does something that the majority of people find offensive, they have negative public relations. Itís up to the PR team to turn the negativity into something positive. In political campaigns PR teams sometimes work on creating negative PR, sometimes called a smear campaign, in order to change the publicís opinion about a certain candidate. During this time, two public relations teams are working around the clock to create new campaigns and work to counteract any negative PR thatís been put out by the opponent.

What Is a Public Relations Team?

High-end clients often hire a team of publicists. Each publicist is responsible for handling something different regarding the PR surrounding the client. One publicist may be in charge of crisis management, handling emergencies that come up that may tarnish the reputation of the client, while another is responsible for all media communications. Publicists often work together to insure that consistent public relations communications goes out to the public and works to positively manage the reputation of the client.

Not every business or individual will work with a team of publicists. In fact, the explosion of social media allows smaller businesses and individuals to manage much of their initial PR and avoid having to hire someone to build their reputation. Many people are now being discovered on social networking sites or blogs and building their business or reputation solely online.

Larger companies still need PR experts who understand what direction the company wants to go and how to get them there. While it may not seem like a big deal to most people, PR is basically what sets one company or individual apart from another. Every time you read a press release, see a commercial, receive a brochure in the mail, or hear a speech from a prominent figurehead, you are seeing the public relations for that individual or company at work.