For the past seven to ten years the task, as well as definition of Public Relations has shifted immensely. The reason: social media.
When PR became an actual field of work, its main purpose was to communicate to the public, changes that companies were going through, and news about new products being launched. Then, it started shifting into the managing of a company’s image or reputation. Later on, celebrities and public figures realized that Public Relations was helpful to maintain the image they wanted, therefore, PR was no longer just about providing information to the publics. This is a shift that throughout our timeline already existed. Nonetheless, PR practitioners have been going through a new shift, that is ongoing and changing every day, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.
PR leaders have been trying to come with a new, modern, and more accurate definition for Public Relations since 2003. Attempts failed that year, as well as in 2007 when efforts were made again. It was just last year that the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) came up with the redefined term: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
When thinking about what the main difference is between PR fifty years ago, and now, is that instead of being a one-way communication, now it’s a dialogue between companies and their clients. Before, PR practitioners sent out press releases and organized press conferences, but now, even though it’s still practiced and equally important, they are focusing on responding to their publics’ needs. All of this is done via social media networks like Facebook and Twitter.
Now-a-days crisis management may only involve sending out a Tweet and responding to comments on blogs, as opposed to organizing a fully-blown press conference or sending out a press release to all mediums.
As long as communication methods keep evolving, Public Relations and other related fields will have to constantly re-define themselves, as well as their practices.