I’ve worked in the PR industry for several years and even studied public relations throughout college; yet, the majority of my closest friends and family still have no clue what I actually do.
Ask any PR professional and they will quickly tell you just how much of a challenge it can be to explain what public relations is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a social gathering and had this exact exchange…
Friend: “Hey! What are you up to nowadays?”
Me: “Just working, doing PR at an agency in Beverly Hills.”
Friend: “Oh really? So…you’re kind of like, Oliva Pope!”
Me: (sarcastically) “Yup! Just. Like. Her.”
While nearly every sector of public relations involves some degree of persuasion, crisis communication and ‘fixing’, very few PR people actually spend their day hiding dead bodies, covering up scandals and breaking the law. We like to leave this kind of ‘heavy lifting’ to Ms. Pope. Besides, the closest I’ve ever been to the President is sitting in #ObamaJam traffic whenever he visits Los Angeles. #ThanksObama.
Conversations only become more convoluted and complicated when I mention that I ‘do media relations’ or ‘work with the media.’ Many individuals fail to understand that a fair share of the stories they see on the news, in magazines, tabloids etc. were actually pitched by public relations professionals.
This — the idea of earned media — is what led me to pursue a career in PR. While brands pay advertisers to place their content within the media, publicists use their skillset to strategically incorporate branded key messaging into language that’s attractive to the gatekeepers (also known as journalists). In doing so, we are able to secure valuable press placements and recommendations from trusted and well respected journalists editorially, i.e. without payment.
In my opinion, any company can pay to have their key message disseminated to their target demographic (also known as, advertising), but how many can influence the same publications to spread their message for free?
This is essentially what public relations professionals do. At the most basic level, it is our job to pitch newsworthy story ideas to the media on behalf of our clients and ask them to write a story surrounding it.
The purpose of the story angles we pitch is always to:
1. Shape and/or maintain a brand or company’s perception
2. Spread the word about company news, new product releases etc.
3. Maintain relevance – Keep the client top of mind.
Public Relations is a key component to virtually every industry, company and brand; however, the functions of PR remain the same.
At Crier, we primarily handle media relations for food and health brands. For our food clients, we work to maintain the brand’s positive image within the media by obtaining reviews and editorial coverage. We also inform the public about new products and flavor releases so that consumers can make an informed purchase decision while grocery shopping.
This, in essence is what public relations professionals do for a living. So to the friends and family of all publicists everywhere #ThisIsPR! No more excuses, STOP CALLING US OLIVIA POPE! Just stop it.