What do People Actually do in Public Relations – Part 1

Very few people can explain just what people in public relations do, unlike other professions such as being a doctor, or a policeman where it is obvious, not many can explain what the role of somebody in public relations is. So, to help you to understand what skills are needed to work in public relations here are five things that may help to explain.

What Are Public Relations?

Many people who work in public relations say they are in the business of persuading people, and the PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) states that “public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their public”. Basically, public relations is all about storytelling, to build reputations of either people or companies. A good PR person will look for the best in things and to develop them, and if the news is bad, they can throw a positive spin on things. Public relations interact between a person or company and the public, they can explain government policies and manage political campaigns.

The Tools of the Trade

Professional public relations people should have the following qualities:

  • Construct press releases
  • Write speeches
  • Formulate pitches on a company and distribute them
  • Create special events for media
  • Handle detailed market research
  • Can utilize social media for networking
  • Crisis management
  • Negate negative online opinions

Public Relations vs Advertising

Publicity is something you hope for, whereas advertising is what you pay for. In other words, in public relations it is your job to convince newspaper and other media editors to write positively about your client, in advertising you simply pay for the ads. This does matter greatly as in the case of a TV company for example, it will dictate where your information will appear on their schedule. Public relations messages are commonly aired in the editorial and news sections whereas advertisements do not. This gives your story more credibility as it looks as though it has been verified by a third party.

Another differentiating factor between advertising and public relations is the cost. Advertising can be very costly indeed, but many PR companies charge monthly retainers or can be hired for one specific campaign. It is common for advertising agencies to tell their clients what they want to hear, not the actual truth as they want more and more paid advertising from the client. But PR firms step up to the plate to manage crises when they happen or take control of lengthy campaigns utilizing long term relations. They usually are more honest with their feedback and tell their clients what they should hear.Public relations firms build trust, they do this by forming long-term relations with the media and their end client base. It is not just a case at throwing money at a problem and running more ads, it is a complete strategy of awareness that takes time. Advertising can sometimes be used to enhance a public relations campaign but that is only a very small part of the entire strategy.