Public Relations: What kind of work is PR? Who is best suited for it?
Written by Yusuke Kamimura. Translated by Nadia Melikhova.
What kind of work comes to mind when with the words “public relations (PR) representative”? Most commonly, a PR representative is associated with writing press releases, negotiation with the mass media, and the development of company branding.
An increasing number of businesses, not only large and medium-sized companies but also start-ups, are placing PR representatives in key positions within the company. This article will convey some ideas about the importance of a PR representative, as well as managers who are thinking of hiring or looking for professionals in pubic relations.
Public relations representatives are the leaders behind the curtain
The personality of a corporate spokesperson is usually thought as someone who is “outstanding” and “shining”. This imagined representative can present media interviews on TV or in newspapers, they may also appear in the media themselves to answer questions. Indeed, there is a strong image of compelling and charismatic type of people, especially in startups. Many of them are starring in social media like FB or Twitter, looking very enchanting and positive to the public.
However, the real PR leaders work very hard behind the scenes, even though they don`t always receive their share of recognition.
The job of PR officer is to deliver the company’s information to the right people in the right way. They are professionals in the field of information propagation; they arrange the data, the method of distrubution, and the characters depending on the recipients of the information.
For example, when a company wants to promote it’s technical skills in IT media, a story is created that highlights it’s engineers as main characters. Prior to the media release/interview, the PR representative can make rehearsal, to better anticipate any major points that may come up. During the interview, the PR officer should accompany the engineers and the media in order to support the appeal of the company’s technical skills.
Strong leadership skills always stand behind the scenes of public relations work.
A true leader is not just one chanting slogans, but must be a person who actually leads and shows the best possible way. A strong PR representative is one who acts like a stage director, by supporting the company’s information transmission and its brand.
Anyone can write a press release!
Managers, salespeople, and marketers can also write press releases. They can give interviews to the media easily as well. So at a first glance, it may seem that PR functions can be done by anyone, so is a qualified PR officer really necessary?
If a company are sends out press information or a staff is interviewed once or twice a year, there is no issue if any regular staff in the company temporarily handles this type of PR task. However, this method won`t work if a company has to appeal to the public more frequently. Therefore, without professional PR backup, a company’s intended message might not be conveyed correctly.
Also, there are many companies that used to receive a lot of media coverage when their products first came out, but not any longer. It is not only that the company has lost its freshness in the eyes of the media. The main problem is due to a gap in awareness and communication.
As a company keeps growing, the gap within the company`s communication channels and the gap with the general public increases. Looking inside the company, many specialists have noticed miscommunication between the business side (management, sales, marketing) and the technical side (development, support, etc.). Different business departments have different views of “common sense”. These internal communication gaps within the company always extend to the to the public media, conveying a fragmented company image instead of a unified company band.
The role of PR is to bridge the gap between perspectives and viewpoints
Less or rarely interviewed companies have common problems when dealing with media. Usually, acompany and the media have different perspectives on what is considered as the “interesting content”. It is not something unusual, as people all have different viewpoints regarding a particular field, technology, or opinion.
It is a common conversation in any company when a PR person points out that the information sent out by the sales team is “ad-like material”.
The important role of public relations is to understand both the people inside and outside the company, and to translate the information into a language that is understandable by both parties. In addition, the PR representative must provide feedback on the gaps between the two sides and mitigate it. A PR representative should hone their skills as an interpreter that suits their company and industry.
These days, public relations work is not limited to dealing with the media
The work of a PR rep varies depending on the size of the company. For example, in start-ups, there are few opportunities to send out press releases. In this case, the main goal would be to strengthen the communication and raise awareness of the company through events and posts on social networks that would also lead to recruitment. Eventually, as the company grows into a medium-sized enterprise, various roles will emerge, such as the PR function for internal communication and in-house branding, crisis management, and investor relations.
Nowadays, social networks examine the skills of PR professionals in one-sided way. Of course, it is important to provide an interesting content and make it buzz (spread the word). All the same time, it is important to have the ability to engage the right people in the company and form connections with the public and media.
Furthermore, there are all kinds of risks, such as information leaks and accidents that could damage the company’s brand image, since any employee can easily post a content. Therefore, PR professionals are also required to educate employees and conduct crisis management.
Public relations officer does not only deal with the media, but also with the company’s followers, employees, and many others. It is a challenging work to build trust with these people and facilitate communication.
What kind of person is best suited for PR?
One of the common mistakes that startups tend to make in hiring PR professionals is measuring candidates based on the strength of connections with the media and their years of experience. Of course, it is important to build a strong network of media contacts. However, it can be damaging for the company if the appointed PR lacks the respect in interpersonal communication skills within the company. It is important to choose and hire people who can be trusted inside the company too.
ShapeWin strives itself in being able to support and educate our client’s internal departments. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about building or strengthening your in-house PR representatives.
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