3rd sector PR or when Community is our main stakeholder

Purpose of the paper: The main purpose of this article is to discuss the connection of two disciplines considered as different till now both in their theoretic principles as well as in their practices: Public Relations (PR), or if you prefer Corporate Communications, and Communication in the Public Interest.

Methodology: This is essentially a conceptual paper that applies a qualitative approach to the field in consideration. A review of the main literature is presented as well as the considerations gathered from empirical research during the last ten years among Portuguese nonprofit organizations and NGO.

Findings: We conclude that Third Sector Public Relations are marked by an ongoing commitment to society and to the community and, therefore, should always incorporate what is usually conceived as Communication in the Public Interest into its core strategy. In the context of Civil Society organizations, Public Relations must be seen as negotiation and commitment.

Research limits: Its conceptual framework might need to be better developed.

Practical implications: According to our arguments a redefinition of the scope of both the conceptual and empirical field of Public Relations is needed.

Originality of the study: It provides a new theoretical approach to Public Relations.

Key words: Public Relations; Third Sector; Nonprofit Organizations; Corporate Communications; Communication in the Public Interest; Public Communication Campaigns

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