When we hear the term ‘public relations’, we all have our own ideas of what it is. Some of us believe that a life in PR means mingling with socialites and having a job that is more fun than work, but it is much more than that.
PR and advertising
The first misunderstanding when it comes to PR is its confusion with advertising; they are not the same. Advertising projects ideas from the business to the consumer to help promote and market news ideas or concepts. Public relations, however, is how a business communicates back and forth with the consumer. Public relations are also not always about the consumer itself but about managing how the press and media portray the business. People in the PR sector will produce press packs and press releases to forward onto journalists, but again, this is different from advertising as journalists are able to communicate directly with the company for more information. With advertising, we are simply given a limited portion of information that we are supposed to be drawn into and learn a lot from a little.
You’re a social butterfly
The phrase itself, ‘public relations’, implies that those working in that sector must be outgoing and constantly networking to help a company. Yet again, there is more to it than going to bars and drinking cocktails in order to secure a few more connections. Creativity is crucial to PR, which is another way the lines can blur between PR and advertising. In PR, you must be imaginative enough to produce enthralling press releases that grab a journalist’s attention within the first sentence. The same with information and press packs. They must be jammed with information whilst still being clear, concise and appealing to the eye. A press pack must portray the company or idea to help get media recognition.
The truth as we know it
Some may believe that PR people will say anything to secure consumers trust, but this is quite the opposite. PR are there to help build a brand and an identity. If all they say turns out to be lies, then that brand identity will be instantly thwarted. PR people work round the clock to ensure a trusted company identity is being built and circulated around both the consumer and the media.
It’s a piece of cake
It might be initially believed that those in PR just doss about calling clients, producing press releases and keeping everyone happy. When in reality, they are chasing up clients who are not making their wants and needs clear. Keeping on top of deadlines, answering constant questions and pestering, producing, yet another, press release or press pack, which can take a great deal of time if done effectively. PR relies on clients or other people, which as most people will understand, does not make a job easy when you are awaiting a reply the last minute before a deadline.
Media platforms are growing
With social media on the rise, PR has to keep connected to every site that allows for social networking. PR people have to keep an eye on complaints being made on sites such as Twitter to get in a quick response to ensure a brand identity is not being damaged. The millions of ways that news can travel in this modern age makes it more and more difficult for PR to cover every inch of what is being said on the Internet. Keeping the customer happy in every aspect is essential to PR. If you were a restaurant chain and saw a bad review on Tripadvisor, you would make it your goal to ensure the reviewer does not feel dissatisfied post-experience.
Overall, public relations covers a lot more ground than its given credit, but it is different from the marketing sectors of a business. Experience, knowledge and creativity are all essential qualities that a person in PR should have. PR comes in many shapes and sizes for any business, charity or council. Good PR is how you know, as a consumer, that a business cares for it’s customers.