Monday, 24 September 2012

Lie to me? The art of public relations

What is a Public Relations professional?

Spin master? Director of Propaganda?

Although these terms are certainly attributed to the field, it is not entirely representative of the occupation. Ensuring positive public perception through influencing all forms of media has long been an art for the gifted.

Beginning in its early stages, our field was sometimes referred to as propaganda, often used by tyrannical governments to ensure obedience to an ideology or leader. Today however, we have come a considerable distance in the development of this craft. Although staying on message and influencing the media are important skills to any PR professional, it involves a variety of talents, often overlapping with other fields.

Sometimes confused with marketing and sales, PR is a part of the marketing mix. As PR professionals we use many skills of the marketer, with an important distinction, we are continuously engaging in a
2-way interaction with the public/customers. This 2-way interaction is unique and what makes our field so interesting and dynamic.

After reviewing a number of definitions in class, I believe that they do not sum up the trade in a simple and easy to understand description. For the average person, the best way to describe this field, in my opinion, is that we are responsible for the two-way communication between a product (could be a brand, a company, a politician, athlete, or celebrity) in that we ensure they are viewed by followers and the public in a positive light. In doing so we are “marketing” and “selling good publicity for our product.

I feel comfortable having this opinion since I have had real life experience working in PR. I have found the first few classes to be a great refresher in some of the basics and a great way of helping actually define PR in my own mind.

This course will be especially beneficial for me since I have not had formal training in the field. I have enrolled in the course since I wanted to address a few concerns that I have experienced at work. There are a few issues that I am hoping this course will help me with:

1)      Managing the frenetic nature of the job. I was rarely able to get ahead of the curve and found myself more reactive than pro-active.

2)      Educating internal stakeholders within your organization on the abilities and limitation of what PR can do.    

3)      The ability to devise a PR and/or communications strategy. This alone would solve many problems that I have faced in the past. As more strategies are created, the easier it will be to replicate strategies to react quickly to similar situations.

4)      Additionally, PR involves writing and although I believe my writing to be strong, I would like to improve my efficiency. I have been in situations where I was asked to prepare a press release, media advisory and organize a press conference within an hour and a half. Efficiency is vital to be successful facing these tight time-frames.

Thank you for following my post this week. I hope everyone is enjoying our class and please feel free to add your thoughts to my post.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Andrew,
    Enjoyed your post. You are absolutely right, the textbook definitions for PR can be maddening and overly complex. PR is indeed about positive two-way communication in its most basic function. And that can be so incredibly far reaching in today's fast-paced, non-stop news and social media cycle. It can seem that as PR people, we're more often putting out fires than being strategic in our day to day communications. It's definitely a challenge. But the best PR is strategic...the rest is luck... and it's so vital to have strategic plans in place so that we feel certain we are effectively reaching our goals, are prepared in times of crises and that there is a protocol to follow when reactions need to happen FAST. We'll certainly tackle the areas of learning you've outlined above. Keep the questions coming!