So you do…what exactly?

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Is it marketing?
Somewhat
Advertising?
No
You just party for a living?
Absolutely not

When asked what I study, a confused face is a typical reaction. With over 300 definitions, lines are blurred when pinpointing what exactly public relations is. People associate portrayals of the industry to what they see in the media. The glamorous life of Samantha Jones from Sex and the City to the dark side of the field with Olivia Pope in Scandal. These TV adaptations of the PR profession take a small part of the industry and exaggerate it. There are misconceptions about the industry just as there are misunderstandings about the definition.

Marketing is a process that strives to sell products to a target audience. The marketing mix strategies product, price, place, and promotion to deliver results. Advertising is paid media, which differs from public relations were the media is earned. A classic example of the difference :

“IF A YOUNG MAN TELLS HIS DATE HOW HANDSOME, SMART AND SUCCESSFUL HE IS – THAT’S ADVERTISING. IF THE YOUNG MAN TELLS HIS DATE SHE’S INTELLIGENT, LOOKS LOVELY AND IS A GREAT CONVERSATIONALIST, HE’S SAYING THE RIGHT THINGS TO THE RIGHT PERSON AND THAT’S MARKETING. IF SOMEONE ELSE TELLS THE YOUNG WOMAN HOW HANDSOME, SMART, AND SUCCESSFUL HER DATE IS – THAT’S PR.” – S. H. SIMMONS

The field is a complex, grueling cycle of striving to achieve a positive image for your client. In a world where information travels fast, slip-ups can become magnified. It can be a combination of art and science using elements of creativity (ideas, innovation, clever concepts) and strategy (SEO, social media analytics).

The Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines PR as “A strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

The simplest way to describe what a public relations professionals does is that they have a client (product, brand, celebrity etc.) they represent, and it’s up to them to show everyone how great that client is. They will use various tactics and strategies (create campaigns) to execute that goal.

Without public relations, a new business can’t flourish, companies struggle to stay relevant, or a brand can tarnish its name in a time of crisis.

It’s about image and making your client look good.

Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some hire public relations officers.-Daniel J. Boorstin


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