The Most Common Questions I Get About My Job and How I Answer Them

“So you work in advertising?” Not quite. Anytime I tell a friend, family member, or even a stranger at the nail salon what I do for a living, I am usually faced with blank stares.  

Generally speaking, I have found fewer people who DO have a basic understanding of public relations than those who do not. 

Even on a professional level, I think I can speak for most PR executives in saying that we are often faced with questions about how to quantify our work. Questions about how to derive value from UMV, SOV and KPIs, oh my! 

So, I started thinking about some of the common questions I get and how I answer them to explain what PR is and why it matters.

Q: The Advertising Question

Yes, this is really a question that I was asked around the dinner table recently. If you think it doesn’t apply to you, just replace “advertising” with “marketing” or “social media,” and I am sure that most PR professionals have been asked something similar. 

A: While PR, advertising and social media all are part of the overall marketing mix, there are key differences between each. Advertising is based on paid media placements, while PR is based on earned media placements. Our Principal Curtis Sparrer goes into more detail about this model and why understanding it is important for synergistic communications in a recent Forbes article

Q: So, You’re a Publicist?

This is better than the advertising question, but it still doesn’t quite encompass all of our work at Bospar. It’s a very limited role and not very strategic. PR, when done well, is far more than publicity.

A: A family member recently explained my job as telling people what to say or what not to say for an interview. While we certainly take pride in our work to prepare clients for media interviews and speaking engagements like any publicist would, our typical PR program is inclusive of much more than that. In a standard partnership, we handle media relations, analyst relations, contributed content, and awards and speaking opportunities support. 

Q: What Is the Value of Working With a PR Agency? 

Ah, now we’re getting into it. This is a common question not just from the general public but one that we hear frequently from clients and prospects as well. While we might make it LOOK easy to place coverage with top-tier media, PR has many more moving parts than just traditional press.

A: There are several ways to define value, and it all depends on what matters to you as a company. To start, one of the most traditional ways to showcase the value of a media placement is by identifying the amount of views it gets. We do this through UMV, or Unique Monthly Visitors, to the news site or by circulation for a print feature. We can also identify the number of viewers of a broadcast segment. 

Oftentimes, clients want more than these numbers, and there are a few ways to dig deeper. One way is to calculate a client’s Share of Voice (SOV) among the competitors it identifies itself with. This involves comparing the number of media mentions within a given time frame, determining which companies made up which percentage of the total coverage during that time frame, and usually a PowerPoint presentation to package it all together.

We can also compare quarter-over-quarter or year-over-year media coverage to see how we’ve performed over time or how one initiative performed compared to another. 

We recently posed this question to Vanessa Yanez, an industry expert and president of PRSA’s Silicon Valley Chapter, during a Bospar all-hands meeting. Vanessa advised that if none of the above metrics is hitting the mark, we should look at how our clients measure success and where our media placements fit into this equation. She said that she has had to quantify PR through trust metrics before, when that was the most important thing to company executives.

This is a conversation that we are always having at Bospar so that our clients never have to question the value of our work. 

Yes, we are often asked about PR. Let us know if you have any questions for us! We’re always willing to talk about the value of PR in achieving long- and short-term marketing and corporate goals. Even in a nail salon.

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