What is Public Relations?
So, you say you want a career in PR. That’s great! But do you know what Public Relations is, and what it does? As a second year PR student, I’ve found that explaining what PR is, and what it does is very difficult, because PR covers a lot of things.
According to the CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations), PR is best defined as:
Public Relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you.
Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.
In plain English, I would say that (although I’m by no means an expert) I see Public Relations as a way to communicate with people (more specifically, your target publics.) By communicating with them, you are building up a relationship with them, which will hopefully have a positive impact in what they say, and think about you.
The types of PR:
There are two types of Public Relations:
In House – This is where you work for one specific company or organisation
Agency – You work for a PR agency, but instead of just working with one client, you will work with multiple clients.
The perception of PR, although it now seems to be changing (in a positive way), used to be a negative one, and I think that’s partly because it’s a relatively new career, and its hard to understand exactly what its role is & what it involves.
Journalists also used to view PR negatively, because to some, PR was responsible for ‘churnalism’ and creating stories that weren’t really stories – but a way of promoting a client’s product or service.
It also doesn’t help that some see PR as a glitzy, glamorous, easy job, attending free gigs/concerts/launches etc. That’s a very small part of PR – and believe it or not, there is a lot of hard work involved.
(See video – I was shown this in the first year of my degree. This is definitely what PR isn’t!!)
(Youtube: Absolutely Fabulous, I’m PR Darling)
If you’re after a standard 9-5 job, then I would say PR wouldn’t be a career for you because it involves so much time and effort and in reality, PR is a demanding job with long unsociable hours, which requires a strong level of time management and organisational skills and a very high work ethic.
But, I can promise you that it is worth it. When you are first planning a PR campaign and are working around the clock to meet deadlines – you feel drained. But when the campaign is finished, and you can see the end result of all the planning, the late nights, and the constant need for caffeine, you are proud of what you’ve managed to achieve.
This is one of the reasons I chose to study PR, because it’s fast paced, and no two days are the same. Especially if you work for an agency.
What does PR involve?
PR can be so broad, because you end up doing little bits of everything, really.
From my experience, here’s what I’ve learnt so far:
- How to write a press release/media pack
- How to plan and manage a PR campaign
- How PR works alongside marketing and advertising (integrated campaigns)
- Media Relations (Very important) – a good relationship with a journalist could help you gain coverage for your client and their news.
- Organising events/press conferences/launches
NB: I have learnt a lot more than this too – but it’s hard to write every single thing down.
This post wasn’t intended to scare people away from a career in PR – but I hope that it gives people an insight in to what PR involves.
& I guess that rounds up my first post!
I’d love to know your thoughts on what PR is, and what it does. Do you agree with me, or do you think differently?
Let me know in the comments.
The Diaries of a PR Girl