What is the purpose of PR? Northwestern University Professor Dr. Clarke L. Caywood describes PR as “the profitable integration of an organization’s new and continuing relationships … that create and protect the brand and reputation of the organization.” PR covers two basic, yet essential, concepts: communication and image. PR is usually conducted by an organization using an in-house public relations staff, or an outsourced PR firm. Either way, the PR process begins with research and detailed strategic planning, and ends with implementing and evaluating a plan.
In the past, PR professionals have themselves suffered from bad images, and have been referred to as “spin doctors” who brush negative situations under the carpet, or distort the truth about controversial issues. Like every profession, PR has its good and bad eggs. However, in 1948, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) was formed to address PR issues and uphold the profession to the highest standards. Today, many PR professionals abide by the PRSA Code of Ethics.