Public Relations

public relations, activities and policies used to create public interest in a person, idea, product, institution, or business establishment. By its nature, public relations is devoted to serving particular interests by presenting them to the public in the most favorable light. Thus, the goal of the public relations consultant is to create, through the organization of news and advertising, an advantageous image for his client, be it a business corporation, cultural institution, or private or public individual; toward this end—the making of favorable public opinion—many research techniques and communications media are used. Although many of the same methods are employed, public relations differs from propaganda, which is generally government supported, international in scope, and political in nature. The earliest form of public relations and still the most widely practiced is publicity. The principal instrument of publicity is the press release, which provides the mass media with the raw material and background for a news story. The growth of modern public relations is generally attributed to the development of the mass media, which accelerated the spread of ideas and increased the importance of public opinion by giving more people access to current events. Public relations as a field can be traced to the early 20th cent., when American businessmen found it necessary to respond to attacks by social reformers. A milestone in the industry was the opening (1904) of Ivy Lee's publicity office in New York City. Soon there were other firms in the field, and by World War I the concept of public relations had gained general acceptance. Public relations techniques have been widely used in politics and political campaigns. By the 1960s the public relations agency had become a fact in American life, numbering among its clients branches of national, state, and local government, industry, labor, professional and religious groups, and some foreign countries.

See B. R. Canfield, Public Relations (5th ed. 1968); E. L. Bernays, The Engineering of Consent (3d ed. 1969) and Public Relations (1970); S. M. Cutlip and A. H. Center, Effective Public Relations (4th ed. 1971); J. F. Awad, The Power of Public Relations (1985); E. W. Brody and G. C. Stone, Public Relations Research (1989).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Public Relations: Selected full-text books and articles

Public Relations: Theory and Practice
Jane Johnston; Clara Zawawi.
Allen & Unwin, 2009 (3rd edition)
The AMA Handbook of Public Relations
Robert L. Dilenschneider.
American Management Association, 2010
Handbook of Corporate Communication and Public Relations: Pure and Applied
Sandra M. Oliver.
Routledge, 2004
The Global Public Relations Handbook: Theory, Research, and Practice
Krishnamurthy Sriramesh; Dejan VerČiČ.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003
Media Relations: Issues and Strategies
Jane Johnston.
Allen & Unwin, 2007
Inside Spin: The Dark Underbelly of the PR Industry
Bob Burton.
Allen & Unwin, 2007
Strategic Planning for Public Relations
Ronald D. Smith.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005 (2nd edition)
Public Relations as Relationship Management: A Relational Approach to the Study and Practice of Public Relations
Stephen D. Bruning; John A. Ledingham.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2000
Public Relations and Communication Management in Europe: A Nation-by-Nation Introduction to Public Relations Theory and Practice
Betteke van Ruler; Dejan Verčič.
Mouton de Gruyter, 2004
Applied Public Relations: Cases in Stakeholder Management
Larry F. Lamb; Kathy Brittain McKee.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2005
Qualitative Research Methods in Public Relations and Marketing Communications
Christine Daymon; Immy Holloway.
Routledge, 2002
Deconstructing Public Relations: Public Relations Criticism
Thomas J. Mickey.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2003
Mixed Media: Moral Distinctions in Advertising, Public Relations, and Journalism
Thomas H. Bivins.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
Media Writing: Print, Broadcast, and Public Relations
W. Richard Whitaker; Janet E. Ramsey; Ronald D. Smith.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004 (2nd edition)
Rethinking Public Relations: The Spin and the Substance
Kevin Moloney.
Routledge, 2000
PR! A Social History of Spin
Stuart Ewen.
Basic Books, 1996
The Unseen Power: Public Relations, a History
Scott M. Cutlip.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994
Public Relations History: From the 17th to the 20th Century: The Antecedents
Scott M. Cutlip.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1995
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