What type of PR are you?

I haven’t written a work-related post for a while; it’s been fun getting feedback and follows in response to my relaxed and more random posts, but it’s only fair that I throw a few work nuggets in, as I have a fair bit of knowledge to pass on and I don’t have my own TV show ~ yet!

Quite gradually, I’ve migrated myself out of a pure PR role, into a role that has PR as a ‘soft’ function in conjunction with other aspects of the marketing mix.  Jobs that require an integrated approach tend to have communications in the job title, which generally means that your remit will extend beyond PR. I am often asked what PR is, it wasn’t that long ago when my daughter used to ask, what exactly is it that you do all day?!

Whatever sort of PR you are, it’s a stimulating and exciting career choice.

This post should help to answer that question and will be a useful read if you are considering a career in PR or are thinking about moving to a different aspect of this wide and exciting career spectrum.

A Pure ‘PR’ role, which usually states PR somewhere in the job title, will be concerned with mainly with reputation management (usually promotional, includes endorsements, placed editorial or feature articles, positive associations with the ‘right’ people, ‘right’ places, media relations, product placement) or reputation protection (includes crisis management, damage limitation, issuing press statements, developing agreed lines etc).

You can do reputation enhancement or protection work in a range of fields,  private or public sector.

  • In the corporate world you will be primarily concerned with looking after the reputation of products (brands), senior personnel or possibly the company itself.
  • You can fulfill a similar role in the public or not for profit sector but the emphasis will be very different: you will be more concerned with how the organisation is perceived by the public who can be described as ‘service users’ For example a charity want to show off its credentials in providing excellent care, research or lobbying for its chosen cause. A local authority will want to promote how it is reducing the strain on the public purse,  providing better use of public funds or supporting innovations.
  • Doing PR work for individuals, managing celebrities or doing PR for products or events requires a different sort of skill set
  • The art of persuasion will be your best asset here as you navigate editors, TV producers, agents and ‘talent’ to secure great media slots to ensure that they are kept in front of the public and in work.

The sort of public relations work you are involved with will differ greatly and will reflect the industry, company or individual you are working for and whether you are working directly for the client or in a PR agency or consultancy. Your success in your chosen field will depend on your ability to understand your core function and appreciate the nuances of the field you are working in.

Suzy Rigg, Communications Consultant

  • Celebrity PR may involve attending film premiers, doing interviews for consumer press that feature celebrities, getting your celebrity to be a guest presenter or panelist on TV or radio shows or making sure they are seen in the ‘right’ clubs, bars or being entered for awards that will potentially boost their career.
  • In contrast, public relations in a local authority will require liaison with the local and national media to ensure your authority and its councillors are reported on positively, that your authority is seen to be well-performing in a range of recognisable benchmarks like lowered crime figures or affordable housing.
  • If your field is corporate PR, depending on the sort of company you work for, your scope of work may include submissions for business awards, positive endorsement of your companies achievements in business and national media, getting consumer and media attention for new product launches or writing, securing ‘opinion leader’ editorial in business, economic or national (international) media.

I have only touched the surface here on the sorts of work you will be responsible for as a PR, in addition to this, you will have a myriad of other duties which will include writing, issuing, ‘selling in’ press releases, monitoring and evaluating media coverage offline and online, devising campaigns, stunts, writing strategies, meeting internal stakeholders, briefing key team members, sharing and disseminating media coverage, managing crises.. it makes for a busy, challenging and stimulating career.

It’s a competitive career requiring top-notch technical skills that will only take you so far.  You will also need to be fast, quick-thinking and acting, calm under pressure, resourceful and able to bounce back when things go wrong. With oodles of emotional intelligence. These may sound like skills for all jobs but roles are so visible. Everyone has an opinion on what they read in the press, online or saw on television. Or didn’t see or read. If you can’t stand the naysayers, stay out of PR.  But if you’re ballsy, confident, articulate, an adept writer with a desire to be stretched  – go forth and PR!

So say I.

© Suzy Rigg


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