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So, what exactly is PR?

Author: Laura Ruark
June 20, 2017

What exactly is PR?I recently had a conversation with a friend who asked, “What exactly do you do every day?”

It got me thinking. How do I explain PR and what I do each day to someone who’s not in my industry?

The first thing that comes to mind for me is to describe the end result. I usually say, “So, you know when you see an article about the launch of the new iPhone in the New York Times? Someone like me made that story happen.”

Then, depending on their interest, I go into more detail about how it actually happens.

I thought it would be fun to ask my Bospar colleagues what they’d say to a friend or someone they meet in a bar who has no idea what PR professionals do all day. Here’s what they would say:

  • “I provide information about my clients to journalists so they will write good things about them.” Tricia Heinrich, Chief Content Officer
  • “I listen to my client’s wants and needs and then reverse-engineer news headlines that will help them achieve their goals. Then I work on how we’ll create those headlines.”Curtis Sparrer, Principal
  • “I work with technology companies to get them in the news. So, basically, anytime you see something on the news, a PR team did that. And that’s what we do for our clients.”Ali Nagy, Account Director
  • “PR people are the link between reporters and the companies doing things they’re interested in. For example, if a reporter at the Washington Post covers the cost of healthcare and a company has data about how much money Americans spend on prescription drugs, the PR person makes that connection. The objective is, of course, to get the company in front of people who might be interested in it, but organically. Ads have their place, too. But a well-placed mention in a good article is worth its weight in gold.”Rachel Thomas, Senior Content & Research Associate
  • “When you see articles on Facebook that your friends share as a ‘good read,’ someone like me provided the reporter with the idea to write their story.”Hannah Ruark, Senior Account Associate
  • “It’s not marketing, but it is because we work with clients on how to best sell themselves to the media. It’s not journalism, but it is because we write press releases, surveys and pitches that are published as news. It’s not telemarketing, although we do cold call journalists and try to ‘sell’ them what we’re pitching.”Stacey Grimsrud, Senior Account Associate
  • “I’m the liaison between the media, the public and you/your company. When your company has an announcement to make, I get a reporter to cover it. We do everything from writing press releases and supporting clients at conferences and events to community outreach. Our responsibilities also include crisis control and general counsel.”Gaby Perez-Silva, Senior Account Associate

So, to answer the question: What is PR?

In most organizations, it is an essential part of an integrated marketing mix, the most credible way to tell a story that reaches target audiences—including employees, prospects, investors and customers.