The definition of PR has always been the cause of much debate.
Anyone who has been on an 18-30 holiday would probably say PR is a job description for the unfortunates who spend days and nights trying to drag holidaymakers into bars and clubs – when they are in effect sales reps. Tabloid readers may reference the late and very much disgraced Max Clifford as a PR guru – rather than the gutter publicist he was. Many will even still believe that a job in PR means an Absolutely Fabulous life drowning in Bollinger. If only…
Now even members of our own industry are adding to the confusion – with a recent episode of BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show causing uproar at how PR was characterised.
The panel discussion about ‘The Art of Public Relations’ featured three senior comms professionals (all from large London agencies) who suggested that their jobs are centred around media coverage and media relations.
Industry bodies the PRCA and CIPR were quick to jump in to stress that suggesting PR is purely about publicity is dated, inaccurate and misleading.
For some – perhaps those agencies that were invited on to Radio 4 – publicity may be the focus of their working day. But, for the majority of us – especially in the B2B environment that The Right Agency operates in – this could not be further from the truth. Media relations is of course an important part of our job and nothing beats the buzz of gaining quality, positive press coverage for your clients, their services and products. However, daily we are involved in clients’ business decisions, strategy development and stakeholder management.
We have clients who consult us on the best routes to market for their products; who rely on us to help them build relationships with retailers; for whom we enter awards or organise events to help them with recruitment. We advise on handling social media contact; which sponsorship opportunities will enhance their brand and write reams of technical articles and papers. In short it is about communication at many different levels, not just with journalists.
PR has many different guises and it is a shame the BBC didn’t invite a more balanced panel to the show. All that said, if anyone wants me to loaf about drinking champagne for an afternoon, I could be persuaded…