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What Is Public Relations? 

Sophia Hartsock
Sophia Hartsock is a Boise State alumni and works as an Account Coordinator at Red Sky, a public relations firm in Boise. Photo by Arlie Sommer, Boise State Extended Studies

Public relations can be a challenging term to define.

Everyone seems to know the term, but not everyone understands what it means.

Even the nation’s leading professional PR organization needed help.

Back in 2012, the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) held an industry-wide campaign that yielded several thousand submissions before finally agreeing on this definition:

“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Public relations is an integral part of an organization’s growth.

And if it’s done right, public relations will help build brand awareness, generate valuable opportunities, increase credibility, overcome obstacles and build trust with the audiences that matter most to your company.

But in 2020, with the amount of content being so readily available, building those mutually beneficial relationships can be difficult to navigate. Information is coming in countless ways – from social platforms, news outlets, community forums and online resources. PR professionals have to react swiftly to changing trends, tactics, channels and overall audience sentiment in this digital age as the content is relayed in real time and at all times.

The Importance of Strategic Communications

In a world where it feels everyone is digitally connected 24/7, the need for strategic communications professionals is reaching an unprecedented high, and more and more companies are recognizing that fact, which makes a career in public relations a smart choice.

A communications career also requires nimbleness as public relations professionals constantly adapt to an ever-changing media and business landscape. This type of versatility allows communications professionals to be trusted, invaluable partners to clients because they can deliver numerous smart solutions quickly. Some of those tasks can include:

  • Corporate communications
  • Crisis communications
  • Internal communications
  • Investor relations communications
  • Integrated marketing
  • Media relations
  • Content creation
  • Events
  • Social media
  • Multimedia
  • Reputation management
  • Speechwriting
  • Brand journalism

Sophia Hartsock, a Boise State alumni who works for a public relations agency in Boise, had this to say about the job: “Every day it’s something different, every day you have a different task to tackle. It’s very much a great challenge of your creativity. Your clients are constantly looking to you to come up with different ways they can tell their story and promote their brand.”

Public relations is an area that can change the future of a business and is vital for any brand, and it gives strategic communications graduates a lot of options to meet their interests or needs when they enter the workforce.

Contact the Integrated Strategic Communications Student Success Coach

About Boise State Online Programs

Along with the Integrated Strategic Communications Online Degree Program, Boise State University offers 45+ online degree and certificate programs to help you make your educational dreams a reality–whether you need a bachelor’s degree, a graduate degree or a single, online class. For more information, visit