I am a big fan of classic game shows. “What’s My Line,” “To Tell the Truth” and “Concentration” are great oldies to enjoy. Truth be told: I wanted to be a game show host when I was a kid.
When the contestants give their brief bios, one thing that instantly intrigues me is the number of players who worked in public relations. It amazes me to think that PR was a profession so many years ago.
When I tell someone I am meeting for the first time that I work in PR, generally they say it sounds exciting. Having had enough follow-up conversations with people once I know them better, I find that most folks only have a vague idea of what PR is. Sometimes, thanks to television character portrayals of the industry, they are way off base!
To be fair, this is hardly unique to the PR field. My dad has told me numerous times what he did for a profession before retiring, and I have yet to understand anything beyond that his work involved engineering in a manufacturing facility. He also has yet to really comprehend what I do in PR.
So, for my dad, journalist friends and everyone else, here are four truths about PR that everyone should know. Side note: It may be helpful to declare here that this is coming from the perspective of a former journalist who has now been in PR for more than a decade.
- PR is part of a larger communications strategy. I like the definition from PRSA: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” In other words, for the greatest success, PR is one part of an organization’s overall strategy for communicating its story internally and externally.
- Internal PR matters. While a lot of attention is focused on the media relations side of PR, the internal side also matters a great deal. Why? If your own people have bad things to say about the organization, it will trickle down and out (perhaps to other employees, social media and the media).
- PR is about storytelling. No, not making up a fictional story or facts. But it is about telling the story of an organization through its work, characters and mission. Here’s how U.S. News & World Report states it: “Public relations specialists aim to generate positive publicity for their clients and enhance their reputation.” How? By employing good storytelling techniques, with credible facts, through appropriate channels and speakers or writers.
- PR is not just for huge organizations. One of the great things about being a “Bospartan” is the opportunity to work with organizations of different sizes. You have no doubt heard of Tetris, but some of the other clients we’ve worked with have been around a far shorter time and receive less publicity, though we are working on that! Some needs are different depending on organization size, but innovative PR through strong storytelling can help any group get known faster and accelerate adoption of technologies and products. From helping a local animal shelter raise money through a charity walk to building a multimillion-dollar brand, PR is a strategic function for achieving results.
This list could go on way longer. I venture to guess everyone who was asked to put together the top things to know about PR would have different results. So, what is the bottom line? PR can take many forms, especially in 2021 with all the new and emerging platforms and channels, but at the heart is building a unique image through strong storytelling. And that is a winning answer – whether it is the 1958 or 2021 version of “The Price is Right.” Come on down!