Not everybody has heard of PR and even those who have can sometimes have misconstrued impressions of it. Don’t get me wrong, before randomly choosing it at uni, I myself had no idea what PR even stood for.
Working in PR and some (very) common misconceptions
Telling somebody that you work in PR often returns a whole range of questions – most of which i’ve heard far too many times before.
- “Oh, you’re basically Samantha from Sex and the City?”
- “So you work in advertising?”
- “Isn’t that just socialising?”
- Or, my favourite… “you work in what?”
Socialising? What’s that? I’m totally joking. But seriously, as much as i’d love to spend every day conducting lunch n’ meets. That’s just not real PR. What it actually is, is spending a lot of time at my desk doing no less than 3 jobs at once. Be it content creation, campaign execution, social media management or even just brainstorming new and exciting means of promotion – it’s always something that has an underlying sense of urgency affixed to it.
And don’t get me wrong, that’s the kind of life I love.
So what actually is Public Relations?
Let me break it down for those who aren’t sure.
PR stands for Public Relations and definitively, it is “the professional maintenance of a favourable public image or a brands reputation by an organisation.”
That’s a really loose definition, mind, as PR can cover a whole range of different duties, jobs and roles. The focal point of it however is there. PR is effectively reputation management. It was once famously quoted that “everything we do and say is PR” and that’s 100% true! The true definition of PR is not set in stone, and what it actually covers is broad and somewhat ambiguous. You might find yourself hosting an event to promote a brand the one day, and hosting a press conference to protect that same brand’s reputation the next.
Okay, let’s do it through means of experiment. Think of a popular smartphone company now in your head.
Is it Apple?
No I didn’t just read your mind. It’s not magic… it’s PR. Though Apple’s success doesn’t duly depend on its Public Relations, its reputable image has certainly helped it grow a great deal. Apple take a really unique stance on their content marketing and their PR. They execute a method which loosely involves telling a customer what they [the customer] want (to the point that they really believe it). Then, they offer them that very thing that they didn’t even knew that they needed.
Could you do without your smartphone? You’d think ‘no way’ but in reality, of course you can. That’s just the product of many years of clever PR.
(Disclaimer: if you wasn’t thinking of Apple then… sorry. I guess I can’t get everything right all the time ey?).
Things that Public Relations isn’t
Where there is anything, there is always misunderstanding to accompany it.
Let me debunk a couple of these common fallacies now. Public Relations is not a synonym for ‘spin’ nor ‘spin doctoring’. It isn’t journalism. It isn’t really marketing and it definitely isn’t free advertising.
I’ve heard a lot of things about what people conceive PR as. With almost all of them being false. Despite what many movies would have you believe, we don’t run around looking after famous people all the time. (Never, in my case).
We’re not spin doctors. We know how to be persuasive (that’s one of the fundamentals of PR) but we sure aren’t liars. To spin the truth is to be dishonest, and that’s not what PR is about. What it is about, is knowing how to target an audience, how to write persuasively and above all – how to grow a brand through a positive brand reputation.
So, lets put a stop to all of these delusions shall we? Public Relations is often commonly misunderstood by those outside of its industry. Which is fine of course. I can’t say I know much about varying job roles outside of the business world. What’s important is that we put the damaging misconceptions to bed. PR is brand reputation management, be it by whatever means. Everybody’s role will differ from the next (I mean even my daily duties change day in and day out) and it really does come down to circumstance.
Remember that everything you do or say is Public Relations, you need the right person on board to manage it.