I have a friend who recently asked me what I did but the conversation quickly got lost when she thought I was in advertising. Fair enough I thought, when you don’t work in public relations it can be hard to describe what I do.
Then I had that horrible moment of realisation where I thought maybe my clients, or future clients, don’t know what a public relations professional does. I then spent a long time trying to think of a positive answer that didn’t involve comparing PR to advertising, using the words “spin” and “doctor” and sounding like I spend all day talking.
To me public relations is about connecting people. When I first started in consulting the main way to connect clients with audiences was through the good old media release. Unfortunately that perception has stuck somewhat and I still have clients who just want a media release and that’s ok, but there is so much more that can be done.
Relying on the media to connect with clients, customers and consumers is never going to give the best results because not everyone reads a newspaper, listens to the radio or watches the TV news. To even get before a journalist can be a long slow process and by the time you do the story may no longer be relevant.
With so many other mediums out there, including company and organisation websites, there is so much more to working in public relations than writing and following up media releases – although these can and do have their place and I will happily work on them for clients.
But I want to see my clients embrace social media and use it to drive their audiences to their website where they can read their stories directly without having to wait for it to be published in next week’s newspaper.
So to my friend, I am a public relations consultant and I help companies and organisations get their messages out there using traditional and social media. Advertising? Um not sure …