I often get some variation of this question: What does a PR person do? What is PR? How is PR different from Advertising?
Generally, I want to tell the person to google it and figure it out themselves, but, I am after all in PR, so I smile and patiently answer the question in detail. Enthusiastically even, so that maybe, just maybe, they’ll tell two friends, and they’ll tell two friends… until finally everyone in the world understands PR. (Pretty low on the list of global crisis, I know, but it would be one tiny baby step towards utopia).
PR is about Influence. Engagement. Communication. Relationships. Presence. Leadership. Community. Branding.
Every organization has stakeholders, customers, clients, citizens, communities that they serve, woo, control or interact with in some way. You need a plan to communicate with those people or groups and to gauge their opinions, thoughts, habits, buying patterns, feelings, etc. A PR campaign connects the organization with the stakeholder and builds a relationship that provides a way to share information back and forth.
Public relations can help you engage your customers, influence lawmakers or regulators, strengthen community support, communicate with the media, tell your customers about your product or services and open communication for the public, media & customers to share their opinions about your organization, company, products, services.
PR professionals provide a variety of services, either as employees, freelance consultants or as stand-alone agencies – anything from a holding news conferences to planning a community event, to writing a newsletter, to pulling a stunt in Central Park to create awareness of an issue.
Social networking is a new component of PR, but most online programs are just updated versions of pre-internet programs, so new media or not, it’s still PR. PR pros provide information in various formats; plan and participate in events; write letters, speeches, and opinion pieces; coach executives; source stories for media; respond to the press; reach out to elected officials; start grassroots organizations and associations; market products; and interact with customers.
Plus a bunch of other things! So next time someone asks what we do, I think I’ll tell them to google my blog!