It gets a little complicated when you tell people you work in PR. The movies, TV and even some fiction novels have a PR officer that flits from party to party, high heels and a pocket full of contacts. Well, the pocket full of contacts is pretty accurate and some parties for sure. But, what about the actual work?
What does a PR firm do?
They pay for coverage you might think. You’d be wrong. They don’t pay for coverage, they don’t pay for advertisements, and they don’t come up with brand taglines (well, maybe in a brainstorming session by accident).
Public relations agencies and PR individuals are all aiming for the same basic thing. Editorial coverage. This could be for a brand new bubble tea bar, it might be for a construction company, or it might be attorney PR.
The goal remains the same. Generating what is known as ‘free’ or ‘earned’ media in publication in print and online. Always with a positive slant for the client.
Promoting your clients, making them appear (or facilitating their rise) to be successful, talents, relevant and exciting. The rules are changing when it comes to paid advertising, and everything that has been flying under the radar will now be labeled as an advertisement where it has been paid for.
Which makes PR even more exciting, because this means that anything printed or written about hasn’t be done so in exchange for anything monetary. So where a news item that is clearly labeled as a paid ad will now obviously be positive, an editorial piece will not be, and the general public is warmer to those stories.
So how do they manage that?
PR people usually specialize in certain areas, but in general, will be skilled in many areas so they can work with multiple clients and achieve the results intended. Here are some of the elements that will be in play:
- Crisis management – turning disasters into success, and managing leaks, faux pas and indiscretions.
- Writing the perfectly curated and created copy on press release literature that goes out to the desired media outlets.
- Writing speeches
- Arranging interviews and writing pitches about potential story opportunities
- Handling openings, launches, and appearances
- Research current feelings towards their client and revamping their messages to fit the desired outcome
- Contacts and lots of them – in all the right places
- Managing the social media team to ensure the message and content stays on brand
Why hire a PR agency or individual?
Well, if you are thinking about hiring a PR professional, it is because you want to raise your profile, and give a smoother direction for the story you want to tell. Or, you have a gleaming reputation, and you want to protect that for the long haul and need some help.
How many times have you seen large companies issue apologies for mistakes in their marketing, or putting out a product or service that is causing problems? A few. The PR person or team will be issuing press releases with apologies, explanations and more to all of the media outlets to help get their client back in positive view.
If you are looking to build a public profile, a public relations agency or individual will know what to say, who to tell it to and where you should be at all times. Raising awareness of you, what you do and anything else you want to so.
The right public relations team or person is an investment that will never go out of style.