What is PR? The full answers

You may have already read my blog post discussing ‘What is PR?’ here, however below are the full versions of each of the answers that I received.

I was overwhelmed with the willingness to get involved from so many people, so thank you to all who contributed!

“Public relations is a management discipline with the ability to help organisations find their purpose in society, build relationships with the people that matter and influence behaviour. While many focus on the tactical elements to PR, this limits understanding of what we do; PR is most effective when used strategically to help an organisation achieve its goals and offers a diversity of ways in which to do this.”

Sarah Hall, MD of Sarah Hall Consulting, editor of #FuturePRoof.

“To me, PR is becoming a vague definition of lots of different practices under one umbrella. The move to digital has given PR’s new responsibilities such as social media and content marketing, and taken crisis management to another level in addition to traditional PR roles in media relations and events. Ultimately, to me, it is about managing conversations to control reputation.”

Lauren Old, English & Public Relations student, University of Sunderland.

“PR is an opportunity to raise the awareness of your brand to your audience. My key experience is in B2B, so it’s largely been about services, and it’s important for people purchasing PR to understand that, simply because their activity is in the media, it doesn’t mean that people are instantly going to pick up the phone and buy what they are selling. However, it means that when they come to need a service or product, that brand will be in their mind and rise up the list of potential providers, purely through the subjective brand profile raising that has been achieved. The subjectivity of PR, compared with the objectivity of advertising is very important, because not all consumers are savvy enough to know that you can’t just make unquantifiable claims in advertising. Therefore, when they see an advert, they know they are being sold to directly. With PR, there is a real psychological benefit to the brand from the perceived subjectivity, or even endorsement, of the publication of their message. This is why in the modern age of PR, we are seeing consumer brands turn to popular bloggers and celebrities and gifting them their products. Even though there are rules surrounding how you talk about a product that has been gifted, it is the image created by putting an influential person alongside your brand that sticks in the mind.” 

– Anon, 13 years of agency experience and 18 in the media.

“Public relations is the practice of understanding the purpose of an organisation and its relationships within society. It is the planned and sustained activity of engagement between these two parties to influence behavioural change, build mutual understanding and trust. Engagement between an organisation and its publics is the core of public relations practice. It is a two-way process by which an organisation communicates with its publics, and vice versa.”

Stephen Waddington, partner and Chief Engagement Officer, Ketchum. 

“To me, PR is not just managing the reputation of an organisation but doing it in ways that are fun, innovative and, most importantly, appropriate to the sector you work in. I think it’s so important to recognise that PR tactics will vary between sectors and PR students and professionals should find what works best for them – if it’s the more glamorous celeb scene you’re into, you won’t be using the same tactics as the charity scene. Fundamentally, every organisation needs PR and PR practitioners need to find the sector they’re passionate about in order to do a good job!”

 Livi Wilkes, Public Relations student, Southampton Solent University.

“Ask a room of 10 PR practitioners to define PR and you will probably get 10 different definitions. Broadly PR has always been about managing the reputation of organisations and individuals, but at a consultancy level for me it’s about management consultancy. PR encompasses all areas of marketing to devise an integrated strategy, not just between offline and online, but between change and employee engagement, to online advertising. Why? Because everything links back to reputation.” 

Michael White, Digital Account Director, Lansons.

“To me, PR means protecting the reputation of a company. What you do, what you say and what others think about you are the guidelines for a solid PR reputation. Being involved in PR is like being in a circus, the companies are the elephants walking in the parade and the PR practitioner is the person walking behind the elephant making sure everything runs smoothly.” 

Hannah Lennox, Public Relations student, University of Sunderland.

“Well successful PR in my mind is the transmission of a message that successfully offers new learning or influences opinion or behaviour. Learning, opinion, behaviour: Alter one (or all) of those three with what you do and I think PR is working.”

– Christian Cerisola, Director, Glue PR.

“PR is… looking at the news agenda, seeing the opportunities out there for your client/employer to make its/their mark to grab their users/customers attention, and making that success happen for them (usually to the detriment of your sanity and social life) Its also one of the most rewarding careers you can ever have!” 

Ashley Kier-Bucknall, Associate Editor of Behind the Spin.

“I think the general idea behind Public Relations is telling the story of a brand. Whether this be through managing relationships with consumers, positioning a company in a certain light through crisis management or creating media buzz through an eye-catching campaign, the big question PR asks is ‘How do I want this brand to be perceived?’ From a practitioner point of view PR is engaging, hands-on and creative. We may not all be living the luxury life of Samantha Jones as some might expect, but we definitely know how to throw a good party to get everyone talking when it comes down to it!” 

Abbie Mattingley, Public Relations student, Leeds Beckett University.

“I could talk about Public Relations as an extremely fast evolving industry offering varied and challenging careers. I could talk about it as a discipline, citing hundreds of definitions by PR pros and academics. Yes, it’s all true and I could, but we’ve heard about it a thousand times already and we will a thousand more. Instead, I’d like to consider PR as a tool, which can help in a person’s day to day life. I’m a student. I do not own an organisation, or a business. I’m not a public person either, but PR thinking helps me tackle everyday challenges at home, work and in relationships. What’s more, in times, when our private and professional life seem to be colliding online all the time, it is important that we manage our personal reputation at all times. It’s the way I represent myself to others, the way I communicate with people I know and strangers, the way I consider consequences of my actions before I act, it’s the way I handle unexpected problems (usually at work…waitressing involves more PR skills, than I ever expected by the way, haha!) PR skills, although typically thought of in the business sense of the word, apply to our everyday living!” 

– Natalia Szczepanek, Journalism and PR student at the University of the West of England

Until next time…


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