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Public relations is a business function that can have any number of names—namely, corporate communications, corporate affairs, public affairs, or external affairs. The senior public relations officer usually reports to the chief executive officer, although sometimes the function reports to a second-level senior officer (e.g., chief administrative officer or, occasionally, the general counsel).

No matter what the name, the function will have a core mission of ensuring good relations with important constituencies, particularly the media. In many instances, the function will include a government relations component, manage corporate charitable contributions, handle relationships with the local community (and sometimes plant communities), and maintain relationships with important activist and interest groups involved with issues affecting the company's business. The same function is also likely to manage internal communications ...

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