Does the Public Relations Industry Suffer From Bad PR?

“And what do you do for a living, Sarah?”

“I work in Public Relations”

“Oh … Okay. You don’t really seem like the PR type.”

I’ve had this conversation a few times since I started working in the PR industry a year ago. For many people, when they think “PR” they imagine huge ‘Gatsby-like’ launch parties, celebrity gossip columns and fashion events. Some people even think my job is to write spin stories for politicians caught in sex scandals. For an industry that sells reputation management as a valuable service, still maintaining this stereotype isn’t great news.

I’ll be honest with you, PR was never a career path that interested me. I had my first taste of the PR stereotype when I was at university. I studied Advertising and shared many of my classes with people who were also studying PR. While I am sure there were many great, talented and intelligent PR students in my class, my judgment was clouded by loud and overly opinionated girls who were interested in building their careers around parties, celebrities and fashion – none of which I particularly cared for. That’s why people seem surprised to hear someone like me can work in PR – and actually enjoy it.

The general stereotype of public relations has devalued the industry. I see many businesses from prosperous industries such as mining and industrial or financial fail to understand the value of including public relations in their marketing strategy. And why would they include it? How would Fitzy and Wippa hosting their event help them with their reputation?

Over the past year working in a PR firm, “parties, celebrities and fashion” are barely mentioned. I have found PR to be quite exciting – it’s strategic, daring and even creative. PR is all about finding relationships between a brand and its audience and creating credible and engaging content that helps build and maintain these relationships. In fact, this blog that I am writing is part of a larger, comprehensive PR strategy.

I’ve seen some great PR work from brands over the past couple of years. Check out Dove, Oreo and even Rekordelig for some examples.

So, how will the PR industry ever be able to break free from its air-kissing, skinny-caramel-latte-drinking, celebrity-loving reputation?

In my opinion – just keep doing great work. If we spend our time ignoring the stereoptye and keep producing great results – it will only be a matter of time before the rest follow.

Contributor:

Sarah Brown, Account Coordinator for Stolen Quotes.

An obsession with deadlines

It may seem odd, but it’s true. I live for deadlines. I love them. There’s nothing more satisfying to me than a big, looming deadline ? except perhaps new stationery to assist with said deadline.

Deadlines are great. Not only do they keep teams on their toes, working harder, faster and more efficiently, but they crave organisation. You can’t smash a deadline if you’re not extremely organised.

Working in PR, you’re expected to juggle a million deadlines at once: client deadlines, internal deadlines, supplier deadlines… the list goes on. To really nail the expectations of all of these stakeholders, it’s important that your team is working to a united deadline, with the same milestones to ‘tick off’ along the way. An obsession with to-do lists is a definite plus.

To-Do lists are the life-blood of an organised business. I keep two to-do lists a day. This may seem like overkill, but for the 10 minutes I spend a day compiling my to-do lists, I am left with a highly organised day-to-day plan which means I:

  • ?Never miss a deadline (internal, client or other)
  • ?Never forget to complete a task that was assigned to me
  • ?Never stay back late catching up on minor tasks that should have been completed during a work day

It also means I am always complimented on my efficiency in responding to client and media enquiries.

It may come down to something embedded in my psychology about a need to please people (in fact, I’m almost sure it does), but to me, there is nothing worse than failing to deliver on an outcome or timeline that has been promised to a client, or a direct report. Realistic deadlines that are agreed upon even before project commencement lead to realistic timelines and process steps, a more organised team and ultimately, a happy client.

And it doesn’t get much better than that! (Unless you’re offering me free stationery, of course.)

Contributor:

Hollie Azzopardi, Account Manager for Stolen Quotes.