On the back of our business cards we have a definition which we believe explains what public relations is.

It differs from that found in the text books and those favoured by the different PR professional bodies.

It is “Public relations is the management discipline of communication”, which recognises that the role of PR extends through all aspects of the communication of an organisation.

I came up with that definition many years ago when I was editing ‘Public Relations Australia’, which was then the official publication of the Public Relations Institute of Australia.

The catalyst was a request from my then 5 year old son Gavin.


Gavin needed an explanation of what I did for a living for ‘show and tell’ at his school which required all the pupils to stand up in front the class and explain what their dad did for a living. This would have been a relatively easy exercise for the son of the butcher, baker or candlestick maker, but more complicated for the son of a PR consultant.

Well Gavin went off to school with his newly minted PR definition and duly explained to his classmates who all seemed to understand and nodded in agreement.

Which leads me to the conclusion that if five year olds can grasp what public relations is, why do we still encounter senior business executives who still don’t understand what it is and how it works?!