By Sarah Knight, Copywriter
I have been working in a public relations capacity for more than 10 years, and I am always fascinated to hear how people perceive the profession. Some think it is just about schmoozing, while others think it is just churning out press releases. But nothing bothers me more than when people think it is just a fancier way of saying customer service.
While studying public relations in college, I worked for a temp agency where I’d interview applicants who listed public relations as a skill set on their resume. When I would ask them to elaborate on this qualification, they would say, “I have a knack for working with people.”
This response irritated me because I knew all the painstaking hours I was putting into my studies, and it involved a heck of a lot more than just having a “knack for working with people.” I was performing communication audits, composing company mission statements, getting articles published in the local paper and much more.
Public relations is about shaping and maintaining the image of a company in the eyes of its various “publics,” which is anyone who ever has or ever will form an opinion about that company. In fact, an organization’s reputation, profitability and continued existence can depend on the degree to which its targeted public supports its goals and policies.
When you’re in public relations you have to understand the interests and concerns of your client’s publics and how to best address those topics.
Publicity is one of the best ways to reach out to your publics and it can take many forms: from articles in trade publications to employee newsletters to press conferences for new product launches to winning industry accolades to effective social media campaigns to answering tough questions on TV news programs.
To this day, I still find people who have a misperception of public relations. They understand pieces and parts of the job, but fail to realize the bigger picture of the profession. And while this lack of understanding really bothered me in college, these days I spend less time worrying about the misguided and focus heavily on creating positive results for dgs clients.