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How I can explain what public relations is to my mother without her eyes glazing over

By Christie Parhiala

A simplified definition of PR


Women on a swingset, talking to each other.What is public relations?


I get asked this question all the time. If I’m being honest, I sometimes have trouble narrowing it down into bits of information that someone who knows nothing about communications and marketing could understand. 


The Public Relations Society of America defines PR as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” 


For those working in PR, you understand that no two days are the same. One day, you might be in a series of meetings with clients. The next day, you may be conducting research and sending out media pitches. And the day after that, you might be writing a news release and creating social media content. The list is never ending. 



Mixture of professions 

The way I usually explain the PR profession is as a mix of advertising, marketing, and journalism. It’s like advertising in the sense that you’re promoting a business or service to gain profits and awareness. And it’s like marketing in that you base your campaigns on research. 


The main difference between public relations and journalism is PR professionals work for a company or agency to promote a business in a positive manner, whereas journalism is objective. 


By explaining the day-to-day activities and comparing other professions, my mother and other family members are able to better understand exactly what I do. Simply reading PRSA’s definition is not enough. To someone who’s not in the field, using PR lingo will not mean anything. You must simplify, explain, and compare. 


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Christie Parhiala is a fall intern at Axia Public Relations. She is currently a public relations and marketing student at the University of North Florida. 


Photo by Bewakoof.com Official from Unsplash

Topics: public relations, PR tips

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