Will the real face of PR please stand up?
No matter the industry in question, every business sector has a completely unique set of challenges, and the PR industry is no exception. However, in the current marketing environment there are certain situations that PR professionals must handle which can be particularly tough.
Brands and companies alike understand that in order to succeed they need a comprehensive PR strategy, but the reality for many organisations is that they are allocating marketing spend to a function they know very little about. This brings about a significant number of challenges for practitioners within the industry who are still trying to educate clients about the true meaning of effective PR.
PR strategy is able to be carried out across a large number of platforms in many different and innovative ways, which is why it's not really surprising that many people confuse the true definition of PR. PR in its simplest form, is the communication between an organisation and its stakeholders. People often view PR through the lens of media relations because it's a significant aspect of what we do. However, media relations is just one of many PR tactics that range from crisis planning to content development and social media, to name a few.
A concern for PR practitioners
It would seem that PR in fact faces its own public relations challenge and lack of transparency in particular; this is a concern for PR practitioners. This stems from the establishment of fake grass-roots agencies that disseminate false information in order to influence public decision. It's an on-going challenge for professional PR agencies to differentiate themselves from underhanded media manipulation and non-disclosure. There's the additional concern of agencies that try to capitalise off mainstream media and end up abusing the format. As its name suggests - earned media must be earned.
It's a well-known fact that journalists and PR people have a rather duplicitous relationship. This is in partly due to the fact that journalists are quick to assume their PR counterparts are always trying to pitch advertorial type press releases that are not really newsworthy or relevant to them. However the fact is that journalists need PR people as they are one of their most valuable sources of information. Part of fostering good relations with journalists means demonstrating that value time and again, maximising face-to-face time, finding out what they consider to be newsworthy and understanding who writes what.
A highly specialised field
The fact that PR can be carried out across a wide range of platforms serves as both an advantage and a challenge for those in PR, as it can be difficult knowing which platform to operate from. Hence the importance of stressing that PR is a highly specialised field of expertise like any other form of marketing. It's necessary to dispel the notion that because many of us are avid Facebook and Twitter users, we too can launch effective social media campaigns. It simply isn't true.
As the marketing environment has a rapid pace of change, particularly now with technological advances and merging platforms, it can be challenging for PR professionals to remain abreast of industry changes. However, this also presents PR practitioners with the opportunity to increase their relevance as the versatility of the discipline means that it is already beginning to play a far greater role in the marketing mix.
About Lucinda Boddy
Lucinda Boddy is MD of Livewired Public Relations