Public relations is one of the few professions struggling to define itself in the public’s eye. The term, public relations, or PR, is used differently among the general population than its professional meaning.
Public relations as a field has nothing to do with the casual use of the term, often applied in a somewhat derogatory context to mean image or fluff or lacking substance. The proper use of the term is defined simply as “unpaid publicity.” Thus, public relations is best contrasted with advertising, its polar opposite, defined as “paid publicity.”
That’s why the online revolution has impacted the field of public relations so heavily, because it has introduced new fields of unpaid publicity such as blogging, email newsletters and even search engine optimization. Other than Facebook ads, public relations rightly addresses these areas as part of its overall domain.
It’s amazing to find prominent CEOs who have neglected public relations in their overall marketing strategy. Because stories written by editors and reporters must pass a certain threshold and be deemed worthwhile by a “neutral gatekeeper,” public relations coverage is estimated to be about ten times as powerful per column inch.
Most marketing experts agree you should focus just as much on PR as advertising, yet that message still hasn’t trickled down to the general business community.