“So, what is PR?” Sometimes I really dread this question when I go to networking events – it’s one of those things you know you’re going to be asked, but in many cases, my response is never quite believed. Whenever I explain what I do I’m challenged: “Well, that’s copywriting, isn’t it?”
“I thought that what’s social media experts do?”
“Isn’t that journalism – are you a journalist then?”.
And, of course, I will always at some point get the Absolutely Fabulous reference: “So you spend your time wining and dining clients and journalists?” (If only I had the time!)
According to the CIPR (the Chartered Institute of Public Relations), it is “about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.” (simple, right?)
If you’re a Wikipedia fan, the site claims PR is “the practice of managing the spread of information between an individual or an organisation (such as a business, government agency, or a non-profit organisation) and the public.”
I’ll be honest, I think it means different things to different people – or at least different specialisms. A celebrity PR agent, for example, will likely be more focused on photo opportunities and social media activity than securing an authored feature in a leading magazine. In comparison, a recruitment agency owner is likely to want to see their name in a key industry publication – somewhere that clients and candidates alike will access regularly – to raise their brand profile.
The fact is, aside from the AbFab reference, all of the above encompasses what myself and my colleagues do here at BlueSky PR. We handle journalist enquires (both good and bad) and actively pitch ideas on behalf of our clients. Where comment opportunities, feature placements and press reactions arise, we write the copy and manage the process through to publication. Once live, we manage distribution of the coverage across a brand’s social media channels, seeding the information into the right groups and getting the company’s name in front of target audiences.
But it doesn’t stop there. As a company we have evolved – we are more than PR, we are strategic advisors. We develop long-standing relationships that deliver results. Whether that be from using our connections to pull together a high-profile panel event for a client (and facilitating it, might I add) to working with a brand to redesign its messaging and profile.
So, what is PR, then? It’s a strategic business growth activity that centres on reputation, engagement and expertise. Well, that’s what it is to me anyway.
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Author: Vickie Collinge