By: Greg Rokisky
While those directly involved in the field could go hours on end discussing ins and outs of press releases and journalist horror stories, the general consensus is that people don’t understand what PR (that’s what us groupies call Public Relations) really entails.
The following are possible and probable responses I get when discussing PR outside of the professionals in the field:
“Oh, so you do social media?”
“So you’re really good at graphic design, then?”
And that’s if you’re lucky. Some of my family members give me the blank stare as if I decided to join the peace corps and move into the jungle whenever I excitedly ramble about earned media, press releases and public relations campaigns.
So my goal in this is to help crack the code on what PR is, because while we do it naturally and second nature, it’s sometimes hard to explain to others on what we do.
Let’s use a little jingle to help:
“Your Choice, Their Voice”
PR requires a different spectrum of effort, research than advertising requires. Advertising is all about what the administration of a brand or company want the company to look, speak and breathe. This takes an inside-out direction.
PR, contrastingly, is about obtaining and maintaining credibility, working from the outside. It’s about researching your particular client(s) and figuring out what makes them tick. You then take and pitch it to the outside world (journalists, radio, local news, etc.). You are taken upon the task of pitching your client with the hope (no guarantee) of any pick-up from media.
This is where your creativity comes in as the professional. And you get to choose how to represent the client best. PR is about doing something new and bold. Creative minds will go far in the public relations field.
All the while, you (the PR savant) are trying to pitch this idea to hopefully transform into an opportunity to engage your client’s target audience, you are also working to appease the client. After all, your job is not only to work with outside folks to gain awareness.
You are also the voice of your client. You have to be constantly checking in and communicating to ensure you are representing the client in an efficient manner.
It’s about ultimate storytelling. You can’t be successful if you don’t have the facts to tell the tale.
What it boils down to: sure PR can involve social media, or graphic design (or potentially heading into the jungle if the client calls for it, I suppose). But the real meat of the matter is that PR maintains the overall goal to produce a strong public image representing your client, whatever creative means that may entail. The stipulation of true public relations comes down to focusing on a conversation and depends on a credible journalist to portray and convey the message.
So remember that if you are in the field of PR, or wish to pursue a career, it’s your choice but you must embody your client’s voice.