A Public Relations Firm (PR) is a professional services organization, generally hired to conceive, produce and manage messages to the public through the media on behalf of a corporate client, with the intention of changing the public’s actions by influencing their opinions. Messages are often in the form of news distributed in a non-personal form which may include newspaper, magazine, radio, television, Internet or other form of media.
Much of the the news people read or watch on television is manufactured by PR firms through press releases rather than discovered by journalists. According to various studies, press releases are the basis for forty to fifty per cent of the news content.
Today public relations is a multi-billion dollar industry. The top fifty us-based public relations companies charged over $1.7 Billion in fees. The industry employs over 200,000 people in the US and there are more public relations personnel than news reporters.
TOP 5 PR FIRMS – FUNDING SOURCES
1. Edelman, is the largest independently owned PR company, with 46 offices and 50 affiliates around the world. PR firms like Edelman “have played a critical role over the years in framing the debate on climate change and its solutions – as well as the extensive disinformation campaigns launched to block those initiatives.
2. Weber Shandwick Worldwide (WSW) the world’s largest public relations company. It is a privately held firm.WSW has been heavily criticized for its work for the Japanese Whaling Association and its work for the New Zealand government-owned logging company Timberlands. WSW owns Planet 2050, a PR firm marketed as “socially responsible”, which claims to help businesses “navigate the environmental and social challenges needed to operate in a planet under pressure.”
3. Fleishman-Hillard is a public relations company with a global network of offices as well as offices in 22 cities in the United States. It is owned by Omnicom. In the US it has “managed crises for the oil, railroad, airline, meat, poultry, produce and high-tech communications industries. Currently is on retainer for the Partnership for Food Safety Education.
4. Ketchum is a large public relations agency employing over 1100 people across 21 offices and with 35 affiliates around the world. Ketchum has worked for the following federal agencies, Education Department, Internal Revenue Service and Department of Health and Human Services, to “change the face of Medicare.”
5. Burson-Marsteller (B-M) is a PR company having “made its name in crisis communications during the Tylenol tampering case.”In the past few years it has acted for big tobacco companies and the European biotechnology industry to challenge the green lobby and counter Greenpeace arguments on GM food.