Abstract: From content marketing and corporate publishing to storytelling and brand PR—the literature contains many examples of hybrid structures in strategic communication in general and more specifically in public relations (PR). The question that arises is which problem these hybrid structures solve. This article focuses on a systems theoretical basis on the function of these hybrid structures. Hybridization is understood as a process by which a social system adopts program structures of another system. Hybridization as a strategy assumes an innovation function in systems and facilitates learning. Hybridizations can be observed in PR on two logical levels: Firstly, PR is itself the result of a hybridization process. This is an example of how differentiated systems can originate from hybrid structures. Secondly, like every form of strategic communication, PR suffers from a lack of trustworthiness, attention and relevance of its communication objects. In order to be able to continue to influence decisions in the interest of those described positively, PR unscrupulously adopts structures of journalism, advertising and entertainment.
Keywords: advertising; entertainment; hybridization; public relations; public sphere; strategic communication; systems theory