What Does a PR Pro Do?
When people discover I work as a PR pro, they often respond with, ‘oh, you’ve got a great job. You write press releases all day and go for long, boozy lunches, right?’ Wrong. While I do write news releases and meet the occasional client, my role as a PR agent is much more varied.
The official definition
As a starting point, let’s look at The Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) definition of PR. They describe it as ‘a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics.’
Most PR professionals would agree this is a fairly accurate description, albeit a bit vague. So let’s break it down.
Communication is at the heart of any PR pro’s job, which is why it’s at the forefront of the CIPR definition. PR pros are the voice of a brand, which they amplify through earned media channels: mentions in newspapers and magazines, on TV, radio, websites and social media. The keyword here is earned, or free. PR professionals don’t create paid advertisements or the catchy jingles you try to tune out during commercial breaks.
When you read a news article in the national press, or read about an event or new product in your local magazine or newspaper, the chances are there’s a PR professional behind that coverage who’s created an angle and message, and is influencing the way you receive it.
We manage crises
Every organisation is vulnerable to a crisis, especially in a world where information can be transmitted in an instant. Whether it’s a natural disaster, customer service blunder, an executive wrongdoing or a legal problem, a PR professional can help you manage your crisis communications and navigate your way through the media storm.
We build relationships
Relationships are the backbone of PR, from clients to media and other stakeholders. Building strong relationships on a foundation of trust is essential to PR success. Clients need to trust your counsel, and the media want to work with trusted sources.
We talk to the media
PR professionals have to pitch stories and angles to the media on a daily basis. We develop as many angles as possible, and pitch different ideas to news reporters, business writers, feature editors, trend reporters, lifestyle writers and bloggers. The most memorable and creative pitches result in positive coverage for your brand. Knowing your media, and having those relationships in place is one of the key measures of a successful PR professional.
We write, and write
Being a strong written communicator is essential for PR pros. Days are spent writing plans, news releases, emails, pitches, tweets and more. In a world where all you have is your reputation, there’s no place for grammatical errors, misspellings or poor writing.
We are translators
PR is only effective when it serves to meet an organisation’s business objectives. So as a PR pro we translate these objectives into stories, then tell these stories through media pitches, social media campaigns, blog posts, presentations and more.
We’re news junkies
There’s a joke doing the rounds that the only people who still subscribe to newspapers are journalists and their parents. Add PR people to that list. A good PR professional is on top of the daily news and industry trends, both offline and online. Understanding how best to position our clients and pitch a story is a must-have.