Public Relations

Public relations: It’s like shoe repairs and key cutting

“What do you do?”
“I work in public relations”
“Oh, so similar to marketing and advertising?”
*sighs* “Yes it’s similar”
[in reality, I know they are not all that similar but it’s easier to say yes at this point.]

Ever had that conversation? If you work in PR and you haven’t had a similar exchange I’d be astounded. It seems PR has a bit of an image problem with the wider public and it’s our job to rectify it.

My fiancé turned round to me the other day while I was on one of my ‘why does everyone think PR and marketing are the same thing’ rants and said…

“It’s just like when you can get your shoes repaired and your keys cut in the same place. They use some of the same tools, some of the same skills and might be done in the same department, but they’re entirely different things really.”

Genius. I’m using this to explain the difference from now on.

If we’re going to define PR as a management discipline, we need to get away from the PR-is-the-same-as-marketing narrative and educate people on the value of PR – whether that’s within other departments in ours or our client’s businesses, amongst the general public or even as professionals ourselves. PR needs to do its own PR.

I believe PR professionals have the skills to manage the communications function within the business. With a full suite of skills – from media relations to copywriting, social media management to crisis comms, reputation management to strategic planning – PR should be overseeing the overall communications practice within a business. And it seems I’m not alone in these thoughts:

Sarah Hall, President of the CIPR, explained on her blog earlier this year: “Talking about PR as a strategic management function acts as a useful prompt for us to feel proud of what we do, but also to develop skills that allow us operate at the top of our game, speak truth to power and give credible advice based on knowledge, experience and insight.” Read the full piece here. 

Until we, as professionals, start talking about PR as a management discipline, nobody else is going to. Until we can concisely define the expertise and insight PR can offer, nobody else is going to understand it.

And I for one am going to start saying no, PR is not marketing, it’s much more strategic than that.

What are your thoughts on the topic? Leave your thoughts below or send me a tweet @ariannewills.

Liked this blog? You might also like to read Public relations in 2018 or ‘Ending the data deficit’ – PR Analytics.

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