Can You Define Public Relations in Three Words or Fewer?

May 2, 2013

In a previous blog post (“What the Heck is Public Relations?”), I noted that even though we’re supposed to be communications professionals, we’ve done a miserable job defining what we do.

Here’s a chance to remedy that.  Tell me how you would define public relations.  Leave a comment on my blog or in a discussion group.

This idea was inspired by the best LinkedIn group discussion I’ve witnessed.  Ian Mitchell, Programme Director at American Express in the UK, asked participants in the Financial Service Regulation group to describe financial regulation in three words or fewer.  Here are some of the 158 responses (to date) he received:

“Stifle, Strangle. Choke.”


“Necessary evil”

“Politicians want re-election.”

“Slowed business development”

“Excessive, Bureaucratic, Inefficient”

“Resisting capitalistic greed”

“Job creation extravaganza”

“Constantly moving target”

“Other people’s money”

I added, “Make lawyers richer,” “No can do” and a few others.

I found the responses both entertaining and revealing.  If compliance officers and other financial professionals can respond as creatively as they have to a discussion about financial regulations, those in the public relations field should do even better, right?  We’ll see.


Directed, purposeful

Directed, purposeful messages

That is PR

Directed, purposeful

That's as good of a definition as I've heard.  Thanks.

pr definitions

relationships, publicity, recognition

Best communication

Best communication

Thanks for adding

Thanks for adding these. 


In case you're interested, this topic has received 71 comments so far on the Public Relations and Communications Professionals LinkedIn Group.


Of course, I'd rather people visit my blog, so thanks.


Ann Wilmer said: ''Prof Charles Wellborn told us it was: "codified common courtesy." '' (see the survey on linkedin)
This should be taken as essence of the profession. But, be aware: we should very well understand what those words mean!

A propos:
I remember a moment in a TV series (Everybody loves Raymond): the main character had decided to be nice in his relation with his wife; the dialogue was like this:
wife: what are you doing?
Ray: I'm being nice.
wife: fake nice?
Ray: what's the difference?

I do think one should try to be appropriate in any situation. This may be common courtesy.

Dan Stoica

PR in 3 words or fewer

Interactive communications understood


Thank you both for your comments.


Codified common courtesy ... interactive communications understood ... both make sense to me.


The responses I've received demonstrate just how multifacetd and complex public relations can be.



PR in three words or less

In my opinion, it's:

Managing corporate identity. (Submitted by Sidney Peck)

PR in three words or less

Thanks, Sidney.  That's as good a definition as any I've heard.



My Three Words

Raising people's sights.

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