The heart of it all
What does a public relations person do? This is a question that comes up quite often, both from civilians who don’t work in PR at all and aren’t very familiar with it and also from individuals interesting in working in public relations in the future.
The easiest answer we can give is that a public relations person (usually referred to a public relations professional or a public relations officer) does a lot of work to promote their client (often an individual or a business of some kind) to a pre-determined target audience in a specific way.
The end goal of public relations is often to increase awareness of and familiarity with the client and their work or to alter how the public sees the client in some way.
Rather than trying to make people think a certain way, it’s more about providing useful and relevant information to a target audience or presenting the client in a particular way.
This idea itself is not especially complicated, but it’s in the planning and execution where the work of PR starts to get more complex.
In the rest of the article, we will just a few of the specific tasks and techniques that public relations pros utilize when working on any campaign. Try to make note of which of these appeals to you and which of them would be more difficult for you to master, based on your own personality and work style.
Communicate with clients
Communicating with clients is simply one of the foundational elements of creating good PR. Unless you know exactly why each client is seeking PR services and what they hope to achieve through the use of those services, then your strategy and execution of a PR campaign for that client are going to miss the mark.
If your client already has a very good idea of what their target audience is, then this will help get things started.
Meetings with clients, whether held over the phone or in person, will also focus largely on determining and solidifying the key messages for the campaign.
Key messages are condensed and straightforward ideas that a client wants to communicate with audiences.
Putting together a solid list of key messages will be a very important initial step for deciding what the actual PR campaign should look like and who it should speak to.
Communicate with press
Many PR campaigns can benefit from the help of outside press, which basically means any publication that the client does not control.
Today, these publications will most likely be websites with substantial followings, often specializing in subject matter related to your client’s work.
Enticing publications to write something about your client and their new product or service can be difficult, but thankfully there are tried and true methods to help make the process easier.
One of the most important things a public relations person can do in this situation is to create a press kit that can be sent to relevant journalists and publications.
A press kit should have only the most important information and make an argument for why the client is worthy of an article or a mention on their site.
When a site publishes a piece on your client, it will immediately expand the client’s audience and make more people aware of an upcoming project or release.
Create PR strategies
Every public relations campaign needs a PR strategy. A PR strategy summarizes what the goals of the campaign are and how the PR team plans to achieve these goals.
One crucial element of a PR strategy is preparing for potential crisis situations. Crisis management in PR is a very large topic, and it can take quite a bit of experience to become skilled in handling a crisis scenario.
But crisis management serves as the perfect example of why creating a PR strategy is such an important part of the process.
Without a plan in place, other PR professionals working on a campaign won’t have a good idea of what they need to be doing or what they’re working toward.
A PR strategy is the ultimate playbook that keeps everyone on the same page, so to speak.
Plan PR campaigns
Publis relations professionals are very often working on an upcoming PR campaign, but we need to make an important distinction here.
In most cases, PR campaigns and ongoing PR efforts are not the same things.
PR campaigns only run for a limited amount of time, and they are often executed in order to promote a specific product or a piece of news about the client that needs to be communicated.
So, for example, a soft drink company would probably need ongoing PR services which would include traditional advertising, billboards, and the maintenance of a pleasing website.
But if the company was about to release a brand new drink that no one knows about yet, then they would approach a PR team to plan a campaign specifically for this launch.
The campaign might include in-person events and marketing efforts, new commercials, and even branded content that would be released through websites and various social media channels.
PR professionals need to know how to work on both types of PR: the ongoing efforts and special efforts that come in one large burst.
Resolve issues and handle crisis situations
As we mentioned earlier, working to resolve problems and mitigate crisis situations is a huge part of any career in PR.
Ideally, problems only arise very rarely and, in a perfect world, they wouldn’t come up at all. But in reality, there are just times when things don’t go according to plan.
Thankfully, PR strategies can help explain what the PR team should do during these situations in order to help lessen the negative impact of the problem and help the client recover once the dust has settled.
The best PR professionals can work with grace under pressure and find new and innovative ways to regain trust between the client and their target audience.