If I were to ask you, ‘what is Public Relations (PR),’ how would you answer? 

I asked this question recently at an event, and the most common answer I received was “getting media placements” or some other form of similar verbiage. 

Was this wrong? Not completely. However, it wasn’t completely right either.

Now anyone can hop on Google and quickly find a variety of technical definitions for PR. I decided to visit dictionary.com prior to the referenced event above and came across the following. 

"What is public relations defined"


My internal dialogue: OK Dictionary.com, not bad…but I’m sure many people after reading this are still left confused on exactly what this means. 

So, readers, here is what we’re going to do.

We’re going to scrap this definition. We’re going to scrap what you currently think PR is. Instead, when you hear the word PR, I want you to think of the following statement:

PR is how one reaches, communicates, and influences the six different relations. (Shortened further: PR = 6 Relations/Relationships)

More than likely your internal dialogue right now is saying: Huh??

Let’s get into this shall we?

Over the past ten years I have come to define what I do (PR) as working with clients to strategically connect with the six different “relations” of PR. These relations are: public, media, customers, industries, communities, and investors. These six categories are essentially the six audiences or target markets that a brand, company, or person will aim to reach and influence through strategic PR efforts. 

Broken down they can be explained as….

Public relations – your relationship with the public.

Media relations – your relationship with the media (i.e. journalists, editors, bloggers etc.)

Customer relations – your relationship with your customers. 

Industry relations – your relationship with others in your industry or similar field.

Community relations – your relationship with your community, either physical or online, in-house (employees) and external (your city). 

Investor relations – your relationship with investors and potential investors for those who one day want to raise capital, be acquired or sell.

"The 6 Relations The PRBar"


So while this definition is a tad unconventional, when you more broadly define PR in this way, it leads you to the very intentional assumption that every business needs some form of PR. The question then becomes, “what type of PR should I focus on?”

So, how do you know what type of PR your business needs?

I tell my clients that to understand what type of PR they need, the first step is to outline their business objectives and goals. From there, you determine which relations will impact or play a part in helping to achieve that goal.

For example, a product-based business owner may want to increase online sales. So which of the six relations do they need to reach to help them accomplish that goal? 

  • The public, if we consider them as potential new buyers. 
  • The media, as a means of reaching the public. 
  • Current customers, as a form of referral and word-of-mouth marketing.
  • Specific communities, to leverage as another area of potential new buyers. 

So, ultimately, the above business would focus on 4 different types or relations of PR. 

All in all, once a business knows the WHO that they should be targeting, it then becomes significantly easier to outline the HOW, but we’ll save the HOW for another time.  

The takeaway?

If we define PR as reaching and influencing “the six relations”, then every business needs some form of PR.