Posted: Friday 12 August, 2011
I recently read an amusing post about the make-up of PR people – no, not the stuff habitually applied to the faces of ladies, but the character traits of the people who work in PR. It was one of those top 10 lists which highlight the idiosyncrasies of the industry with all its in-jokes. Admittedly a couple of the points were rather hackneyed ‘jokes’ about us PR people – ‘always on the iPhone/Blackberry even during dinner parties’, ‘trying to sell-in a story to a publication only to fail by calling it by the competitors name,’ and so on. But it was the last point on this list which made me laugh and struck a chord. It was this: ‘Still can’t explain to your parents/family exactly what it is you do for a living’.
This got me thinking about how I explain to others what I do. It made me laugh because I have had numerous conversations with my parents and family about what I do. The conversation tends to tread lightly between advertising and marketing with a little media thrown in. I try to find those touch points which they can understand and relate to, but there never seems to be that total comprehension you get when stating other careers. Career titles such as lawyer, builder and doctor are self-explanatory; they do exactly what it says on the tin. But PR, Whoa!... that’s a bit more ethereal, non-descript, not quite a ‘profession’ in the traditional sense.
The irony hasn’t escaped me either, that PR people work in communications and getting messages across to audiences is their stock in trade. I think the main problem is that PR is so many things, and continues to be so. Having worked in the industry for a number of years I have experienced various elements of PR from launches, events and media liaison to product placement, crisis management and social media engagement. In short, I have witnessed the evolution of the industry which has grown from the traditional methods of simply contacting media directly, to a much more strategic and multi-platformed, technologically savvy approach.
Being here at Punch has afforded me the opportunity to see the cutting edge of PR – a genuine digital PR agency which embraces traditional PR and teams it with social media and search marketing. This really illustrates how PR has moved on and is light years away from the days of a PRO just ‘knowing a few journalists’ to enable a client’s story to be placed.
If it was difficult to define my chosen career in years gone by, it is perhaps even more so today. Now I find myself trying to explain to my parents the benefits of onsite and offsite SEO - which is challenging to say the least. As with the English language itself, PR is constantly evolving, so perhaps it’s best to constantly revise the definition of what it is I do for a living!