What is Public Relations?

So…what exactly is PR? Is it like HR? Or Marketing? What kind of jobs do PR professionals do?


Let’s be real, we have all been there. You’re talking with friends or family about school, internships, and jobs, when all of the sudden you realize the person you’re talking with has no clue what your field is all about. It happens to me on a regular basis, I’ve heard things like “Is that a fancy way to say journalism?” “So you’re in the marketing business?” and “Is public relations like human relations?”

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to discount the intelligence of my friends and family. It’s a valid question… what is public relations?

According to PRSSA, public relations can be defined as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” (About, 2017) Okay, at first glance that definition is pretty easy to understand, but let’s really break it down.

The words “strategic communication process” tell us that public relations is about planning out diligent and purposeful communication in order to send a specific and distinct message.

The second part of this definition “mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” lines out the purpose of an organization’s aforementioned diligent communication efforts. The overall purpose of any public relation message or public relations work is to create a positive image and relationship with the public. The word public includes people like stakeholders, customers, and press agents. It includes people who can help the company or organization, or people who can be helped by the company or organization.

So… next time your friends and family give you a glazed over look while you talk about your field, take them back to the basics. Teach them about what public relations really is … image and relationship management.

What does a PR professional do?

We have covered what public relations is, but what do PR professionals actually do? What does image and relationship management look like? The answer to this question is… a lot. Public relations professionals do all different types of work. Yes, the majority of their work is writing, but they are also responsible for conducting research, planning events, working with media, and more!


For the past nine months I have worked as a Public Relations Coordinator for the Ellensburg Downtown Association (EDA), which is a local nonprofit organization. A large portion of the work that I do for the EDA requires strong writing skills. I write various monthly email newsletters and print newsletters. I also draft press releases and submit an articles to the Daily Record which are featured once a month. Additionally, I write content for our website, social media posts, and traditional media (such as brochures, flyers and print advertisements).

However, this is not all I do! I also attend a lot of meetings with our publics, such as volunteers, community members and business owners. In these meetings I am responsible for explaining what our organization does for the community, in a way that paints a positive image. The organization that I work for also happens to put on about a dozen events annually, so I have gained a great amount of experience in event planning.

I have always been creative and had an eye for design, but I never considered myself an artist. From my time working in the PR field I have begun to develop my natural graphic design abilities.  I never foresaw that to be a part of my professional repertoire, but it turns out I love it!


Research is always an important part of a PR professionals work. And I have done some of this as well. In order to properly and effectively reach target publics, PR professionals must know all about their audience, which requires research.

You’ve got it all.

I think my favorite thing about working in PR, is the variety of work that I get to do. I have always been a dabbler, a girl who likes to dip her toe in many different waters, which makes this the perfect field for me. I get to write, plan, present, collaborate, research, and design. I’ve got it all!


About Public Relations. (2017). Retrieved from https://apps.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/PublicRelationsDefined/#.WN2AwvnyvIU

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