Public relations is variously defined: those within the PR sector tend to view their activities as having strategic and corporate impact, while many marketers classify PR as little more than a tactical ingredient of the promotional mix. This contrast is important, given marketers are heavy users of PR activity. This confusion has hindered the development of the PR profession and added to the blurring of exactly what constitutes PR. Contributes to this discussion by identifying the core constituents of public relations and the underlying driving forces. Through a holistic approach, examines “PR‐ness” at three different levels. Survey data were gathered from public relations consultancies in the UK. Exploratory factor analysis and confirmatory factor analysis were used to examine the responses of 297 public relations consultancies in England. As a result, the many driving forces within the PR domain have been identified and grouped into nine measurement scales of “PR‐ness”. These findings provide PR practitioners with a set of issues to address in order to progress the perceived professionalism of their activities and they offer a framework for assessing subsequent progress in this respect.