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public relations (PR)

Aspect of communications that involves promoting a desirable image for a person or group seeking public attention. It originated in the U.S. in the early 20th century with pioneers such as Edward L. Bernays and Ivy Ledbetter Lee. Government agencies in Britain and the U.S. soon began hiring publicists to engineer support for their policies and programs, and the public-relations business boomed after World War II. Clients may include individuals such as politicians, performers, and authors, and groups such as business corporations, government agencies, charities, and religious bodies. The audience addressed may be as narrow as male alternative-music fans between the ages of 21 and 30 or as broad as the world at large. A publicist's functions include generating favourable publicity and knowing what kind of story is likely to be printed or broadcast. The task is complicated by the variety of existing media: besides newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, there are publications of professional associations, direct-mail lists, on-site promotional events, and so on. It consists largely of optimizing good news and forestalling bad news; if disaster strikes, the publicist must assess the situation, organize the client's response so as to minimize damage, and marshal and present information to the media.

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Study of the relations of states with each other and with international organizations and certain subnational entities (e.g., bureaucracies and political parties). It is related to a number of other academic disciplines, including political science, geography, history, economics, law, sociology, psychology, and philosophy. The field emerged at the beginning of the 20th century largely in the West and particularly in the U.S. as that country grew in power and influence. The study of international relations has always been heavily influenced by normative considerations, such as the goal of reducing armed conflict and increasing international cooperation. At the beginning of the 21st century, research focused on issues such as terrorism, religious and ethnic conflict, the emergence of substate and nonstate entities, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and efforts to counter nuclear proliferation, and the development of international institutions.

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U.S. government agency charged with administering the National Labor Relations Act (1935). The three-member NLRB, appointed by the president, organizes elections to determine whether employees wish to be represented by a labour union in collective bargaining and monitors labour practices by employers and unions. It does not initiate investigations; its involvement must be sought by employers, individuals, or unions. Though it lacks enforcement power for its orders, it can prosecute cases in court.

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