What Is Public Relations?

PRThat’s a question that I feel is seldom properly answered.

Generally people think that what PR professionals do is a form of advertising or direct marketing.

So, what really is public relations?

Here we go.

Waxing philosophical is an old English phrase which means to explain or discuss in a philosophical manner, or to approach a topic from a philosophical viewpoint. Unlike many of my how-to PR or media relations articles, hereI’ll admit to waxing a bit more than usual. But, I think the topic warrants it.

So – a waxing we will go.

Whereas PR is the name given to a form of marketing, the basic tenants of public relations go much deeper than simply marketing or promotion.

When I was working as a journalist, I interviewed a famous author who in answer to one of my questions responded that all history was perception.

I don’t think I fully grasped what he meant back then.

The more I thought about it, the more I understood. All history whether cultural, social or personal is to a great extent exactly that, perception.

We understand our lives by the stories we tell ourselves (and others) in order to give sense and meaning to our lives. Those stories shift our perception, which create the way we view reality.

Our stories define us. They are the stuff that makes us who we are.

This is not to say facts are irrelevant, but that personal and social history is not based on facts alone.

History is shaped by the way those facts are presented.

In that sense, we are constantly creating and recreating history depending on our perceptions.

In essence, our reality all comes down to the stories we tell.

We all have a story that frames our perception of the world and that perception creates our reality.

Our stories and the perceptions those stories form are the basis for our personal reality, our family reality and our social reality.

As we’re growing up, the messages that we receive from those we look up to as authorities (our validators) we internalize. These frame our story and our outlook on not only ourselves, but on the world. For example, if growing up we’re told that we have a great knack for art that becomes a part of our personal narrative. On the other hand, if we’re told that we can’t sing, or that we’re rotten at sports, that becomes a part of our story. Those facts could be false, but if we believe they’re true, they form our perception of reality. We then base our life decisions on those perceptions.

When we’re young,the validators are generally adults, our parents, our teachers, the clergy, etc. Their opinions and pronouncements are generally taken at face value. They, to a great extent, create our story that in turn shapes our perception, which, to a great extent, creates our reality.

As we age, the basic framework remains the same; it’s the validators who change. Adults, parents, teachers and others who influenced us as children begin to lose the clout they once held. But others come to replace them. As the initial influencers on our lives wane, other influencers take their place.

Enter Mass Media

It is at this point that public relations as we have come to know it begins to surface.

It’s a continuation but also a shift.

How does it affect us?

How can we more fully understand the process?

And how can we learn the tool to help us become actors and not simply reactors in our lives?

To be continued….

Copyright © Anthony Mora 2013

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Categories: Media, PR

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