A guest post by Emma Hillary, account executive, at Tribe PR.
What do you do?
I work in PR.
…. This is often met with some confusion, as people are unsure what exactly PR is.
I have had people confuse being a PR with being a PA; thinking I am a personal assistant to someone. Others thinking I’m a spin doctor distorting the truth here there and everywhere or that I’m off lunching all day long like Samantha from Sex in the City (well that would be nice!). Others think I design adverts for billboards. Very few really know what PR actually entails.
I then explain what my job involves, and people are always really interested (or at least are great at feigning interest). From my short time in the world of public relations, I am quickly coming to love the vast world of PR. It encompasses so many aspects of modern-day business and combines it with the age-old skill of storytelling, which I love.
Here are my top five things I have learnt about working in PR so far:
Everything is PR, PR is everything – When people ask me what I do, I always struggle to put into words what public relations actually is. Ultimately every organisation relies on its reputation for both survival and success, and in a nutshell, PR is about earning brands reputation. That means PR can mean anything from writing articles on behalf of clients, creating and curating social media profiles, writing press releases, pitching to clients, pitching to media, drafting speeches for clients to managing projects. It’s also about creating communications plans, advising on marketing strategies, event organising, conducting workshops, liaising with journalists and pulling reports from Google Analytics. In short PR seems to encompass (almost) everything! I have learnt that this industry has no room for one trick ponies, you have to say yes to trying your hand at everything and be willing to constantly learn as the industry evolves.
PR is also everywhere – Before I started working in the industry, I knew that a PR was a thing. Celebs aren’t going on This Morning just to chat to Phil and Holly, they’ve got something to promote, whether its their new book, TV show, or just themselves. But what I have come see now I’m working on the inside, is the true extent of PR. Almost every piece of media I consume has the touch of a PR person on it. One half me thinks it is really cool; I want to know how that PR person managed to secure that rare opportunity at such a reputable publication, that is so perfect for the client. But the consumer in me was a little gobsmacked to know that some of my favourite articles in my favourite magazines, are essentially driven by PR. It’s definitely been very eye opening.
Journalists and PRs? Journalists, please don’t hate me for this, I know I am being controversial, but hear me out. I studied for a degree in journalism at The University of Gloucestershire. All the skills I learnt for becoming a journalist, I now use in my role within PR. When working in PR I take on the role of a journalist all the time. I have to interview my clients and try and find a story (often out of seemingly nowhere) that I think the public and the client’s industry will want to read. I have to craft copy that has great SEO and gets across the point my client is trying to make, all while making it seem like the article is not trying to actively do these things, it is just an interesting article in its own right. It’s an artform I’ll tell you! I’ve also quickly learnt that journalists rely on the PR’s and PR’s rely on the journalists. Our relationship is truly symbiotic. I’ve found real value in my relationships with journalists and find our best work comes for excellent collaboration with journalists.
Be nice – people talk – When working in PR you are constantly in touch with colleagues, clients, suppliers, journalists, bloggers, influencers, networking groups and more. It is an extremely sociable job. It seems like basic life advice, but the key is: be nice and treat everyone as you would like to be treated. Nobody has time for anyone else’s rudeness and given people move around so much, its essential to treat everyone how you would like to be treated.
Transferable skillsopen doors – When working in PR you interact with so many people across every sector of business, from CEO’s, to business development, to marketing, to sustainability managers. You end up learning so much about each of your client’s sectors and all the roles within them. I have learnt how a brewery runs, all the way through to how to offset a business’s carbon emissions, just through working with my clients. Naturally your own business acumen develops too, and you realise you have learnt skills that go above and beyond the communications and publishing industry. PR opens so many doors through the variety of sectors you get involved in. It has given me the opportunity to see how different companies are run, grow and what is at the heart of their business; its fascinating and educational at the same time.