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What is PR? Then and Now Infographic – From storylinePR

Did you know that the first press release was published in 1906? Or that P.T. Barnum invented outdoor advertising with big eye-catching posters? So whenever you see a billboard, think circus! I found this fun infographic in a great PR post from storylinePR. Check it out here: The Past, Present and Future of PR. You can see the infographic below.

What is PR Today?

That post and infographic got me thinking: What is PR? How are businesses defining and utilizing public relations concepts and tools today, vs. 20, 30 or even 100 years ago? Can small businesses obtain great results with their efforts, even with a small budget?

Times have definitely changed. Today business owners are scrambling to get a handle on their own public relations with the use of a wide range of content marketing strategies designed to enhance their brand and visibility, get more “likes” on their social media platforms, generate leads and engage their current and future customers.

If you are involved in marketing and PR for your company, the tools at your disposal are vast. You can publish a press release with embedded links back to your site, publish your own video, tweet your blog post links, post cool content and engage in conversations on your Facebook page, offer free downloads from your website in exchange for the visitor’s email and contact information so you can share more of your company content with them over time… just to touch the tip of the iceberg.

Isn’t that PR? I offer this definition of PR from Wikipedia:

Public relations (PR) is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc.

An older definition included social science and trends analysis. Analyzing trends and continuing to listen to your market is and always will be important, especially if you want to be smart and strategic in your marketing and PR efforts. But do those activities no longer belong to public relations? It used to be that you would have to perform expensive and time consuming marketing research. But today, with the use of social media and the data published daily on the internet you can gather an enormous amount of information that you can use to support your company’s overall marketing strategy.

Heidi Cohen, one of the marketing experts I follow, pulled together a very nice summary of what PR means to 31 professionals. Her excellent blog post popped right up when I searched for the phrase “What is PR?” And that is no small feat, considering  nearly 25,000,000 people search for that key phrase in a given month. Way to go, Heidi!

In her summary, she shared that her analysis of the meaning of PR turned up 10 mentions of the word “marketing,” 8 mentions of the word “media” (not social), 7 mentions of the word “relationship,” 7 mentions of the word “communications,” 6 mentions of the term “social media,” 4 mentions of the word “reputation,” and three mentions each of “crisis management,” “community” and “engagement.”

Heidi also shared this fun definition of terms:

“If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying ‘Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday’, that’s advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that’s promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that’s publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it, that’s public relations.” – Shared by Davina K. Brewer who attributed it to Reader’s Digest.

Dear Klout: please do not add “circus” to the list of topics in which I have influence. Thank you! 

Anyway, all that is to say that it appears the jury is out, the dust hasn’t settled (choose your own cliche) on what is and is not PR, and whether it’s all shifting over to content marketing, etc. etc. I’m not making any proclamations. Just sharing!

What is PR in your corner of the universe? If you have any thoughts about it, please dish in the comments below. Thank you! You are a gentleperson and a scholar.

Without further ado, here’s the cool infographic, originally from PRWeb:

What is PR? Today It Includes Twitter

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16 Comments
  1. Thanks for featuring in your post! You’re right.. the list of available PR tools just keeps growing. Personally, I love infographics. They a great way for companies to demonstrate the latest industry trends and stats succinctly and effectively. Especially in today’s time-crunched world with target audiences accustomed to reading information in 140 words or less!
    Cheers
    Deanna

    • Hi Deanna,

      Hey, thanks for coming by and checking out my post! You must really have your listening tools working, because I hadn’t even had a chance to get the word out about this new post yet.

      Thanks for sharing the great infographic from PRWeb. It was fun to re-share it!

      Jayna

  2. I wouldn’t say that Trivial Pursuit sales had anything to do with PR. That’s pure marketing!

    But PR is indeed an interesting phenomenon. Companies like Maple Leaf Meats and Toyota have had to practice amazing PR in order to regain consumer confidence after some difficult times, and I think in both cases … they’ve done a great job!

    • Hi Doreen, I’m sure you’re right. Those lines are fuzzy anyway! I think that’s why I like that quote the elephant. Thank you for stopping by!

  3. Great post, Jayna! Unfortunately, the definition of PR in my side of the world has been misconstrued. Aside from using it to promote a business or person in a positive light, the same PR techniques have now been used as well to try to put competitors in a bad light. These days, it seems to have become a lot easier now with social media. Your post is a reminder of what PR really is all about. Thanks so much.

    • Adeline, thank you very much for weighing in with an insider perspective. That is sad. I see negativity here and there on the internet and I find it very distasteful. I recently got involved in a heated conversation in the content marketing world because I stumbled upon one guru slamming another. I couldn’t help but suggest that if they stopped to think about the needs of the community they serve instead of posturing and name calling, they would accomplish much more. I just wonder why they don’t realize that instead of making their competitor look bad, it gives their own company a bad name!

  4. Jayna, isn’t it all about WIIFM i.e. what’s in it for me (the customer, client, reader or whatever).

    Have worked with PR, communication, media and so forth around the world. What works in a small town in Africa is different from what works in New York City.

    So whatever you do you have to do whatever works with your audience. Be it PR, marketing, social media or whatever. If you cater to blind people social media should for instance not be a priority.

    Don’t try to use all the new tools popping up daily online. If you do you just confuse someone visiting your site. Find out what and where suits your audience and stick to that.

    • Wonderful advice, Catarina! Hear hear!! And I completely agree, it is all about strategizing around the client’s needs, interests and whereabouts and delivering what they really want.

  5. What a fun post Jayna! I too enjoy infographics. I absolutely love the Readers Digest quote. Lots of luck not getting circus as a new topic under Klout. I wrote one article comparing blogging to American Idol and next thing I knew AI was a topic that I was “influential” in. I left it on Klout for the curiosity factor. (Maybe it was PR!)

    • I knew you would love that reference to Klout, Sherryl! They somehow think I’m influential about the Bahamas. I’m pretty sure that this comment is the very first time I’ve mentioned it in any online communications. But maybe they are now reading my mind! With the temperatures headed down, here in Minnesota, the tropics are definitely on my mind!

  6. Hi Jayna. Very informative and colorful post!!
    PR continues to evolve and change esp in the age of social media.
    I think the truth about successful campaigns is that more than a fair dollop of luck is involved to go along with the brilliant inspiration.
    Mike

    • I am quite sure you’re right, Mike. Many brilliant ideas come and go. We just hear about the ones that hit the airwaves or internet with the right force at the right moment in time and explode a company’s visibility and sales. I imagine even the thought leaders, inventors and advertisers responsible for the brilliant ideas that launch a brand to stardom are surprised when it actually happens.

  7. I really enjoyed this article, and the fun facts you worked into it.

    Who would have that Trivial Pursuit, a somewhat stodgy, boring game in my opinion–was such an innovator? It sounds like they were at the forefront of experiential marketing and event marketing.

    Great stuff!

    • I know, it’s amazing what you can learn from a simple infographic. No wonder they’re so popular! Thank you for visiting, Vincent!

  8. Hi Jayna,

    I think some forget that PR is Public Relations and that today involves the smarter companies including relations in social media. As a client the best programs have always looked at strengthening customer relationships that benefit the company and customers and not just do a press release.

    The one thing I am still surprised about is businesses who see PR and marketing as separate when in reality PR is a marketing tactic.

    • Hi Susan! I thought I responded to your comment, but alas! I don’t see it here. Thank you for stopping by. Yes, I think you are right that the real meaning of PR has gotten muddied over time and can be viewed as anything from pushing out a message to doing damage control. But it’s really attached at the hip to marketing, which is about creating customer relationships.

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