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#PR: How Do You Define PR?
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Jeannine Wheeler, one of my other colleagues here on Flack Me, posted a very intriguing offering just the other day. Her article asked the question of how PR is defined and gave some of the best definitions she'd been able to find.

In reading her post, I also have to agree that almost all of us know how PR should and should not be conducted, but not exactly what it is. She noted as well that even the person who might be considered the “founder” of PR, Mr Ivy Lee, had difficulties with its definition. You should note, however, this flack considers PR to have been around for millennia; it just never had a name as such. An example of ancient PR would be Julius Caesar's Commentary on the Gallic Wars, which every second-year Latin student has had to struggle with translating. Caesar's book is, indeed, an attempt to portray him as just the person Romans, and Rome, needed as its ruler as the Roman state expanded its borders and slowly transitioned from a republic to an empire.

Ms. Wheeler's post had some quotes that I really enjoyed. Below are some that really resonated with me and some thoughts on them:

I suspect in most companies, the public relations person is down at No. 20 in the pecking order. But here, he is fighting incredibly important battles. If a negative story starts running away with itself in the press and is not dealt with fast, it can badly damage the brand, and so we put enormous weight on our PR people.”
Richard Branson

Personally, I think Sir Richard hit it squarely on the head; his definition is exactly why good PR practices and good PR practitioners are so important to a client's (either internal or external) efforts.

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently.”
Warren Buffet

Another good reason for why PR is so important; if you have to wonder about this, just recall the huge gaffe the then-chairman of BP committed back in 2009 when he thought his golf game as being more important than the huge oil rig explosion, fire, and massive ocean leakage in the Gulf of Mexico.

"An image is not simply a trademark, a design, a slogan or an easily remembered picture. It is a studiously crafted personality profile of an individual, institution, corporation, product or service."
Daniel J. Boorstin

Need I say more?

If you have other comments or thoughts on Ms. Wheeler's original post or mine, join in on the conversation!

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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