“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.
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.