The industry of public relations does a bad job of doing public relations. There are only a few people who can describe what people working in the PR industry do. If you are a cop, a cowboy or a construction worker, everyone knows what you are doing for a living. (If you are a cop, a cowboy or a construction worker hanging out with a person dressed in a leather jacket, there is a big chance that people will tag you as one of the Village People).

People working in the PR industry need to constantly explain what they do for a living and explain that they do not buy advertisements. They do not order media personalities or journalist to make contents or write stories for their clients. They do not produce catchy television ads or radio tag line, and above all, they do not hand out free product samples in the streets or at the mall.

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They promote the brand of their clients, their products and services or the things that they do. But not like standard advertisers, they convince their external as well as their internal audiences using earned or unpaid strategies. Whether it is through conventional means like mass media, social media platforms or through speaking engagements, they communicate with their audiences using free and trusted sources.

To help the public understand PR and how to use their skills, and for the people in this line of business who need to explain what they are really doing for a living with their parents, friends, neighbors, relatives or strangers that they just met, here are some things people should know about the PR industry.

What is PR or public relations?

For someone who does not know public relations, the first thing they need to know is that PR is a persuasion business. You need to persuade your audiences, whether they are in your business establishment, within the city or outside your area of expertise, to promote the ideas in your mind, buy your products, avail your services, recognize all your accomplishments or support the things that you are doing.

Here is what the PRSA or the Public Relations Society of America agreed upon after some submissions: “Public Relations or PR is a calculated, strategic and an important communication process that creates a beneficial relationship between the company or the organization and their target market or their publics.”

People working in the PR industry are storytellers. They make stories or narratives to advance their client’s agenda. Public relations can be used to enhance, protect or build a reputation using traditional media, self-produced announcements or social media platforms. A good public relations practitioner can analyze the company or organization, find a positive message within the company, the brand, product or service and translate them into a good and positive story.

When there’s bad news, they can plan the best reply possible and contain or reduce the damage. According to a note from Princeton Review: A PR specialist should be good at sharpening an image. For example, a company in New York needs to boost their products to gain the attention of the public, the firms or the agents need to know everything about that product.

Who are they targeting, the product’s demographics or how it will fit in the current lifestyle, whether it is in fashion, IT industry food, tourism or medical, PR NYC agencies should be able to plan a good campaign for the client and their products. Their job is to produce positive publicity for their clients and to boost their reputation.

They need to keep the public informed about what the government agencies are doing, explain their policies and manage a political campaign. PR agents working for a firm may handle customer relations or handle the relationship between the management and the employees or manage between branch offices.”

How are they different from the advertisers?

It is paid versus unpaid, purchased or earned, credible or skeptical. Public relations tastes good; advertising is less satisfying. There is an old saying: “Ads are what you are paying; publicity is what you are praying to happen.” Ads are paid media while public relations are an earned media. It means that you need to convince the editors or reporters to create an enjoyable and positive piece about you, your firm, and the client you are handling, the brand, candidates or issues.

If you want to know the difference between PR and advertising, click here.

If it appears in the newspaper, the editorial part of any magazines, television station or website instead of in the “paid media” section of any platforms where ads usually appear, it is a win-win situation for you and your client. Your story needs to have a lot of credibility and to achieve that; it needs to be verified by an independent, credible third party instead of paying for that spot.