What is a Public?

What is a public? Well at first, I figured it was simply this: an audience. Then I realized, at least in the public relations realm, it carries a more extensive meaning.

I thumbed through my textbook to find this definition, but didn’t quite understand exactly what it meant. So I decided then to search the internet and I found a wonderful site that pieced the meaning together for me. Click here to go to the site I found.

Public: Draw a circle in your mind. Now this entire circle represents the general public. Inside this circle there are compartments. The number of compartments is unknown (I don’t know really how many there are), but for understanding’s sake let us say there are four compartments. Each compartment has a title. The four titles are the employee, the media, the community, and the customer. All of the titles mentioned fall under the general public, but each contributes differently. You may also find that these various publics (which each compartment is considered) overlaps.

To go a bit further, let’s examine three of the compartments. 

1st- The employee section of the general public would most likely pertain to workers. More specifically, anyone who is involved in a company and has been paid by the company.

2nd- The community section of the general public would most likely pertain to, obviously, anything in the community. Locations, populations, organizations, anything along those lines.

3rd- The customer section of the general public would most likely pertain to anyone who is a consumer or involved in this sector.

As for me personally, I believe I would side with the publics of employees, communities, customers, and students. According to my textbook (Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics, Ninth Edition by Dennis L. Wilcox and Glen T. Cameron) “publics can arise within stakeholder categories- such as employees, communities, stockholders, governments, members, students, suppliers, and donors, as well as consumers.”

I don’t know exactly why I fall under these, but it made sense that I contribute (however small my contribution) to each of these sections.

Hopefully my take on the latter is somewhat accurate. PLEASE feel free to correct me or elaborate on the definition. As it is, I am still very much a novice. And most likely, I have made an error. So don’t hesitate!

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2 responses to “What is a Public?

  1. I like how you break down public in a hypothetical group of people. I know there are countless “publics” that make up one big world public. Technically we all belong to just as many specific publics at any given moment. And although we may never participate in the public, your lack of opinion or activity is a contribution by doing nothing at all.

  2. Kirstin Maser,

    I really liked this blog. Just reading this blog helped me realize more details about publics. I liked your analogy about the different compartments and how you split them up. I think you pinned the point about the public and you understood it well. Another thing I like is how you were talking about how you do not know how you fall into these different categories, but you know you contribute to them. I think this is a huge thing to understand because so many people just think they are in these categories but do not realize how they contribute to them. I think in many cases just about every public you are in your contributing into, but there are different contributes to each. For example just showing up or actually getting involved and taking control of certain things.

    Thanks,
    Sandra Theoret

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