• Sunday School Nightmares: Defining "Public Relations"

The failure of my brain to memorize things has plagued my childhood for as long as I can remember. To this day, I still have nightmares about my first epic failure of memorization in Sunday school, when I was five years old. My dad was the pastor of the church and everyone assumed that the preacher's daughter would be the star pupil of reciting the memory verse from that week's lesson. I had practiced for a good two hours the night before with my mom and I was ready to go when they called on me to stand in front of my peers and recite Jeremiah 29:11. I got up there and..... crickets....... I couldn't remember a single thing. I don't even think I could remember my own name in that moment. I was absolutely mortified. I shamefully hung my head and sulked back to my spot on the carpet, tears welling in my eyes.

This moment brings me to my junior year of college while sitting in my Intro to Public Relations class. The professor announced that we would have to memorize his definition of Public Relations by the end of the semester. You can imagine my disdain. That dreadful moment from Sunday School immediately played in my brain and other tales of forgetting my lines from the school play, or royally screwing up my Junior English, Shakespeare memorization assignment. I was surely on my way to failing this class.

Praise the Lord, I passed the class and did in fact memorize his painfully long definition of Public Relations. I forgot it not long after completing the class, but I've realized that I've found it time and time again as I've actually begun to step into the real world of Public Relations.

During my internship this summer I begin to grasp the idea that PR is after all, about managing the communication between organizations and their public's. I learned that these mutually beneficial relationships really do make or break a company and can either lead to failure or success. I began to grasp and understand that lengthy definition of public relations that I was forced to memorize after becoming an active participant in the word and actually appreciate it. Public Relations means something different to me every single day as I maneuver and find new realms to the PR world, but I'm glad that my intro professor made me memorize a proper definition at the beginning of my learning process so that I could recognize and commend the work of PR in the world around me.

I leave you with this beautifully crafted definition of PR from Kevin Trowbridge.

Public relations is the communication management function through which organizations build and maintain mutually beneficial relationships with the publics on whom an organization’s success or failure depends.

MacKenzie Wilson
Blog for PR Cases

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