Thursday, August 6, 2009

Public Relations or Publicity?

The word 'public' in public relations has been defined by Hallahan (1999) as a group of people who relate to an organisation and show different intensities of activity or passivity and who may or may not interact with others with respect to their relationship.Infact Grunig and Hunt(1984) and Center and Broom (2000) say that members of a public have something in common,they are affected by the same issue or problem and behave similarly towards a problem. Marianne Kugler (2004) explains that public relations is about relations and relations is about forming networks which can be created, used or reinforced in many ways.

Public Relations when it was in its roots, was actually understood to be publicity.As (Cutlip, 1994, p. 11) also said that public relations initially was publicity ( Wilcox, 1992, p. 41) where he notes what an early practitioner had to say: "I was in the publicity business. I was a press agent. Very simply, my job was to get the client's name in the paper". (So understandibly why they were considered synonyms!)

It was only much later that Edward Bernays and others found out that public relations was about maintaining a balance of interests of an organisation and its publics.Now we know without any doubts that publicity is a communication function and it also means placing any kind of information in a news medium but public relations is a management function, as also explained by Newsom, Turk and Krukeberg in their book The Realities of Public Relations.

If we look at public relations in India, we are still in many ways practicing being press agents in the PR profession. Arent we?

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