My journey into a career in public relations was a bit circuitous, but worth the trip. In college, I majored in communications, thinking about a career in journalism, and took several tracks within the major including public relations, which I liked because it combined corporate communications and marketing aspects. I also took marketing classes and was interested in research and data, learning about potential customers and translating what I learned into information that could be used to target audiences. I became increasingly interested in research and writing, always wanting to learn new things and to share what I had learned with others. When I began working as a telecommunications industry analyst, I was able to leverage and build my market research, interviewing, and writing skills. Working closely with clients on custom projects was to some degree to similar to public relations in that we were working with clients to help them to develop launch plans, marketing plans, collateral, presentations, and whitepapers. When I was presented with the opportunity to switch sides of the table and work with some of the same clients as their PR rep, where I would work on messaging, press releases, bylined articles, presentations, awards and speaking opportunities, I jumped at the chance.
I am proud of the work I do as a public relations professional. My only issue is that on occasion if you tell someone you work in PR, they have negative perceptions about the field and what we do, thinking we are all either spin doctors, repairing the reputations of unscrupulous CEOs or Hollywood stars, or people who spread false news. I preferred to tell people I worked in media relations or now in marketing communications, both of which are aspects of PR.
Public relations encompasses:
- Building relationships with media by sharing stories that resonate with them and their audiences—These stories generally talk about how our clients are solving a pain point for that medium’s audience.
- Gaining visibility for clients through earned media coverage—while some coverage can be paid, the best coverage is when the media covers the products, services, leadership of your client. Attention can be focused on clients through awards won and through speaking engagements. Paid media coverage can blur the line between public relations and advertising.
- Helping clients to increase sales. While marketing is more specifically about selling products and services, public relations contributes to the sales process by increasing awareness and driving traffic to websites. PR is not a magic bullet that automatically converts media coverage to sales; and
- Creating strategies to help clients grow their business—from working with clients to create messaging that positions the company and its story to creating roadmaps and timelines, there is much opportunity in PR to plan, be creative and to translate a client’s story into one that will meet the needs of target audiences.
Public relations is part of an integrated communication plan that includes different media and channels for conveying messages and for sharing positive messages about the company, its executives and markets.
Working in PR enables me to continue my love of writing, technology, helping clients and coworkers to succeed,while always learning something new as products and markets change.
Happy to chat with others interested in entering the field or for companies who could benefit from expert PR strategy.