Do you desire a more challenging job? Would you like one that is highly rewarding? What about a job that is likely to be in demand for years to come? Imagine for a moment that you are hired by some prominent figure or firm to represent their public image to sectors of the population that are related with them in some way.
Are you a member of a particular organization that you would like to promote to the public? How would you feel speaking in front of a group of people and informing them about it? Would it make you proud to know that you’ve made a positive change in your community or country? Do you like communicating via social media? If this sounds like your cup of tea then you may want to consider a career in public relations.
What is PR?
From an academic standpoint, public relations (PR) is the management of communications between an organization and the public. Public relations deals with two entities: the public relations person whom represents a company’s image and its related publics. PR people not only represent a business, but also those whom represent its persona such as an individual, a celebrity, or other famous figure.
Important aspects of PR include mainstreaming, social media, and if there’s a crisis, the people impacted by it. Effective PR necessitates expressing passion about the company or entity you represent and doing so in a way to attract people to it and boost its image. Public relations people not only represent organizations but other entities as schools, churches, clubs, fund raisers, agencies, causes, etc.
PR In the Business World
Quite often PR is used synonymously to marketing or advertising or even thought of as the “evil stepchild” to journalism. People often think of PR managers as deceptive liars, but is that really true? While there are some PR people who abuse their power, not everyone in it intends to lie or brag up the entity they represent as something it really isn’t.
Is PR advertising? Not exactly! There is a major difference between the two. Advertising expresses the quality of a business’s goods or services blindly to the entire public in hopes of seeking out interested individuals. On the other hand, PR focuses only on those that can benefit from its goods or services. Like advertising, PR is not spam. Instead of randomly aiming at the public as a whole. PR strives to target a business’s audience. Even those who might in some way be adversely affected by the company, for example, nearby residents whom must tolerate noises and pollution caused by a plant represented by a PR person are part of its target.
PR focuses on all bodies that might be affected by a particular entity as:
- non-profit community
- local/regional international community
- partners, sponsors, and vendors
- industrial competition/peers
- shareholders/board of directors
Not only are you contacting most or all of the above parties, you are also building a relationship with them. Hence, you’re not mass emailing people you don’t know, but rather communicating directly with those you need to target. Following are some good practices you will want to abide by as you build public relations:
- Segment and market, do not mass mail random groups of people. Become acquainted with the public and hold appropriate conversations with them.
- Be transparent about your goods or services. This means you must be willing to share circumstances you or other people have experienced relevant to your business and ways their problems can be remedied by your business.
- Give before you receive. In order to win someone’s business, being willing to give something up front without asking for anything in return will greatly help. For example, if your company produces health foods, let people sample your nutrition bars or if your business happens to some type of recreational activity as a bowling alley, give people a coupon for free games.
- Have an open door policy. If potential customers have questions or concerns, enable them to get in contact with you somehow. For example, if you have a toll-free 1-800 number for a support department or you are willing to allow prospects to stop in at your office for a chat, they know they can reach you and are free to give you positive or negative feedback.
- Communicate consistently, but do so with variety. For example, businesses may have weekly fliers or monthly newsletters. Say if you send out fliers to your prospects, don’t make each month’s flier exactly the same. You shouldn’t be totally predictable. To “shake things up”, in addition to your newsletter, you can send them a video or podcast about your company.
PR Resources Needed to Promote Your Business
Not only will you need to interact with the relevant publics, you will need to implement some tools that will enable people to remember your business and keep them coming back. Likewise, you must establish a brand, something the public will remember your entity by.
Following are some of the tools and resources that will help others discover you:
- Email address: It is crucial that you have a quick and easy way for prospect customers and all other interested parties to contact you. Of course, this email should be strictly for your business. Encourage those you come in contact with to join your email list.
- News release: Whatever material events are happening in your company that have a great impact on your publics, you’ll want to include them in your newsletter. Say for example, if you’re working on a new product or have found a way to improve your service, you’ll want to disclose that. Having a press release is also helpful, but if you do, insert content that has a news hook to it.
- Website/blog: Though a website isn’t compulsory it is a big help. Also, having a blog or social media page will enable people to find you online. Social media sites as Facebook and Twitter will ensure a greater amount of contact since these are popular.
- Online videos: There is no better way to present something online than doing it through a video. Pages of text, even if accompanied by pictures, can be boring unless perhaps the content is extremely well written. Sites like YouTube and Vimeo are great venues for posting videos.
- Podcasts: By having your own radio station online, this can help promote your business. Rather than just yourself on the station, find someone who can help you conduct an interview. One great site to build your own radio station is through BlogTalkRadio.com.
The more methods you, the more effective you can communicate. Also, you’ll want to keep your method of communication consistent. For example putting out a newsletter on the same day of each month, posting a video once a week, say like every Wednesday, and updating your social media page daily or weekly helps enables your audience to know when to expect news from your business. Using a written calendar can help you do that.
PR In Conclusion
So why is working in public relations such a hot career? Consider some basic facts as:
- US News names PR as one of the best careers to get into between now and 2020. It is one of the fastest growing fields and thus invites a lot of opportunity.
- The Bureau of Labor projects that between 2010 and 2020 there will be a 22.5% growth in the PR Specialist occupation.
- You get to work with causes and people you care about to influence culture and society.
By pursuing a career in PR, you know you can easily find a job just about anywhere? Since there are an unlimited number of subjects or areas you can support, you’re not very likely to be adversely affected by competition. Once you determine your true niche, find some organizations that relate to it and become employed by one.
PR is not only limited to business in the US, but is done globally. You can represent entities as sports teams, Disney World, the Red Cross, or for an organization that ships food and toiletries to states or countries recently affected by a natural disaster. The choice is yours and the options are unlimited. Just find some type of need or purpose that you would like to fulfill and pursue it. If there’s a message you would like to convey to a specific public (like the dangers of texting while driving) you can spread it around.