Public Relations (PR) is a complex field where one wrong move can get you into hot water. From knowing exactly what public relations is, to being aware of how it is different from advertising, there are several nuances to PR that every newbie ought to know of. There will be no shortage of opportunities for a PR professional with the right set of skills, resources, and knowledge base.
Here are 5 things that newbies need to know about the PR industry.
1. Understand the True Nature of Public Relations
What is PR? And what are the responsibilities of a PR professional? According to the Public Relations Society of America (PSRA), “Public Relations (PR) is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” In short, as a PR professional, you will be working in the communications industry. The core responsibilities of a PR person or a firm are to get the people and the media talking about their client’s company, product or service via editorial coverage.
2. Don’t Confuse PR with Advertising
Though PR and advertising share the same goals, they are absolutely different from one another. Advertising is a form of paid media, where paid announcements are created and shared for promotion. Public Relations, on the other hand, is a form of earned or free media and PR professionals promote a company or an individual via editorial coverage.
More often than not, people view advertisements skeptically as they know the client is paying money for publicity. This is where PR comes in. One of the most fundamental duties of a PR agency is to publish articles and press releases on reputed online as well as offline publications. These stories carry more credibility as they appear in the editorial section of reputed publications.
A press release or a newspaper article may not directly encourage a consumer to buy a particular product. But, it certainly creates a positive image of the product or the company. Unlike an advertisement company, a PR agency emphasizes on building a long-term relationship with your consumer base. Neither advertisement nor PR is cheap. However, PR can be a lot less expensive compared to advertising.
3. Rejection Isn’t Uncommon
Rejection is an inevitable part of Public Relations. Be ready to face your share of rejection, particularly if you are a beginner. The first and most important rule is not to write an aggravated response to the editor as your professional relationship is at stake. Besides, just because an editor rejects your pitch once doesn’t mean they will do it every time.
As a PR professional, one of the first things you need to learn is that not every pitch is going to land. However, you must understand that a rejection doesn’t necessarily mean poor writing skills or bad content quality. As it happens, there may be several reasons why a journalist may reject your pitch. Make sure to check with the editor from time to time. It is possible that your pitch isn’t a good fit right now, but may fit the frame of reference in future.
Don’t shy away from your failures, keep trying until you have a breakthrough. Sometimes, rejection can prove to be a stepping stone to success rather than a failure. Try and take it positively. In fact, it can be the beginning of a fruitful professional relationship.
4. It Isn’t a 9-to-5 Job
If you think your job in the PR industry is going to be 9-to-5, you’ll be in for a surprise. Just like the marketing industry, developing your career can take time in this field, so be prepared to put in the extra hours. Besides, with the emergence of Internet and social media, work culture in the PR industry has changed drastically.
You may have to spend considerable time on weekends and during holidays scanning for opportunities to create positive publicity for your clients. Interns may also need to spend extra time on improving their knowledge base. This is especially true if you are working with an agency that spans across different time zones.
5. Writing Skill Is a Necessary Tool
When it comes to the PR industry, content is king. Whether you are composing a press release or shooting an email to a co-worker, you need to develop exceptional writing skills. It is even more important to create unique and well-defined content to grab the attention of your target audience as the media is continuously overflowing with the latest information. As a PR professional, you need to keep up with the demand for fresh content that comes across as clearly as possible.
Public Relations is a creative and an exciting industry. But, it is also a challenging field, where even the smallest mistake can end your career. Apart from knowing the fundamentals of public relations, there are several other things that newbies need to know about this field. Hopefully, the above five tips will help you navigate the complex field of public relations. Are there any tips or experiences that you would like to share? Let us know in your comments!
Josh Spilker is a writer and author living in Nashville, TN. He is the content manager and strategist for Workzone, a top project management software company. He also blogs regularly about the creative process at Create Make Write. You can connect with him Twitter: @joshspilker