PR Definition

A new definition of public relations

IPRA has created a new definition of PR fit for the times we live in. The definition reads:

Public relations is a decision-making management practice tasked with building relationships and interests between organisations and their publics based on the delivery of information through trusted and ethical communication methods.

How is this new definition structured?

First, given the nature of communication today, where brevity is key, this is a short definition - it is 30 words long.

Second, it seeks to explain the what, the why and the how. What is PR? Why do we do it? And how do we do it?

  • WHAT .. Public relations is a decision-making management practice ..
  • WHY   .. tasked with building interests and relationships between organisations and their publics ..
  • HOW   .. based on the delivery of information..

Finally, conscious of the IPRA heritage based on our code of conduct, and of a world today imperilled with fake news, IPRA wants to say something more. This is how IPRA members do PR and how we think the world should do PR. That is PR based on trust and ethics.

  • IPRA  .. through trusted and ethical communication methods.

What is not in the definition?

In formulating the definition there were a number of considerations. The definition should

  • be neutral until the last phrase with the IPRA flavour
  • work in both developed and emerging PR markets
  • be future proof
  • avoid channels of communication such as written press, events, social and digital media
  • avoid consequent objectives such as influence where the primary objective is the building of a relationship
  • avoid objectives that are only sometimes the case such as a claim to be strategic or that there is always a dialogue
  • avoid being specific on techniques that are captured by delivery of information
  • avoid examples and thus be incomplete
  • avoid making trust and ethics an inherent quality of the source but rather something that requires a method to achieve.

Is this the last word?

The definition was adopted by the IPRA Board at its meeting in Yerevan, Armenia in September 2019. It is the result of several months of discussion by IPRA members after they saw a rather lengthy definition of PR claimed to have an IPRA origin and clearly dating back several decades. IPRA recognises we live in a dynamic world. Practitioners and academics have been defining PR for decades. Seminars have been dedicated to it. IPRA offers our definition as we see it today. All feedback is welcome. And if IPRA makes changes to this definition based on such feedback, it is because we believe in the power of communication to build relationships and to change minds.