Thursday, March 27, 2008

pr 101

I can't tell you how many times I have had the following conversation:

Person: So what school do you go to?

Me: I actually graduated a few years ago.

Person: Oh really? In what?

Me: PR-Public Relations.

Person: Oh! So what are you doing now?

Me: I actually got a new job last fall.

Person: Doing what?

Me: PR.

Person: Yes, but what do you actually do?

I've come to realize most people don't know what public relations is and people I talk to (including my own parents) don't really know what I do. If you are one of these people, don't worry, you're not alone. I figured since people are asking me about it fairly often, I might as well try to explain.

I had a professor once tell me PR is like trying to find ways to advertise for free. Though the statement doesn't cover all areas of PR, I thought that was a really clever way to describe it. Public relations and publicity are not the same, although publicity is one function PR people usually perform. A lot of people hear "PR" and think of celebrities' publicists. Publicity is defined as the spreading of information to gain public awareness for a product, person, service, cause or organization. The American Heritage Dictionary defines PR as "the art or science of establishing and promoting a favorable relationship with the public." This is usually accomplished by promoting favorable news for your company. Here are some of the ways to do this:

-Write press releases to send to media contacts when something noteworthy happens at your company-- the goal is to provide information and generate coverage for the company.

-Pitch story ideas involving your company to media outlets. For example, I knew about a story a magazine was going to include in a future issue about office workspaces and interiors. Since the company I work for puts a lot of time and effort into its interior, I called up the reporter in charge of writing the story and pitched ideas on how the company could be included in the article. Obviously you have to know what is a good fit because reporters do not like you wasting their time.

-Submit/nominate your company for awards

-Write bylined articles for publications

-Secure speaking opportunities for executives from your company for conferences, etc.

In case you're just dying to learn more, here are some other typical PR duties:

-Tracking the media coverage your company is receiving
-Creating case studies and other collateral materials
-Crisis communications: basically trying to minimize damage in the event of a disaster or getting the truth out in cases of misinformation
-Creating press kits (basically a kit of helpful information about the company to give to reporters, etc.)
-Creating content for the company newsletter and Web site

The list could go on and on with all sorts of odds and ends, but I think I hit most of the main duties. I do have to say I love PR and I love my job so I consider myself very lucky. Class is dismissed!


Cassi said...

So, you like your job huh? ;-)You lucky duck!

April said...

So I finally called published in this tiny magazine just this week (California Special Districts Magazine). I have to say that it felt pretty good to see my name attached to a 2-page spread even if the topic is kind of boring and I don't think it was my best writing. I hardly do any writing at this job. I'm not sure if I miss it.

Mark and Lachelle said...

Soo...what do you do exactly? (Sorry, I just couldn't resist!) Lucky you to have a job ya like!! The majority of people can't say that, so consider yourself very lucky!!