"So What Exactly Do You DO?" Explaining PR to Friends and Family This Holiday Season
Point of view: you’re at your family or friend’s holiday party (via Zoom of course) and someone asks you, “So, what exactly do you do?” Although the question seems simple, explaining the everyday intricacies of the field and your position can be difficult, especially if the person’s original idea of PR is somewhat outdated. Most people see the duties of a PR professional as attending lavish parties and telling important politicians or celebrities the right things to say, which while true at times is only a small portion of what really goes on. To help explain your role as a PR professional this holiday season, we have compiled a series of questions you can ask your friends or family members to help you illustrate PR in a context they understand:
Start by asking the person to tell you about a brand they love and why. Perhaps, they are currently obsessed with Outdoor Voices, a popular exercise clothing brand. They mention that the brand is body positive, affordable, and their CEO seems down to earth. From there, you can explain that a talented team of PR professionals decided that this message and representation of the brand is what would appeal most to the target audience, and it looks like your family member or friend fits into that!
Next, ask where they see information on the brand. Maybe it’s on the news, social media platforms, or in print publications. All of which you can tell them are earned, for the most part, by PR professionals! Through press releases, media pitching, and an unimaginable number of emails, PR professionals get their client’s story out there. These placements are not guaranteed, they are secured through strong communication, storytelling, and relationships with media.
Finally, ask them to describe the most recent thing they’ve read or heard about their chosen brand. You can then explain to them that their relationship with that brand is ongoing and needs constant maintenance. PR pros are constantly monitoring the media and consumer sentiment to react appropriately to trends. Through data and analytics, PR teams can devise plans to keep consumer’s relationships with brands positive.
Overall, the perception of PR tends to be outdated and incomplete. Although there are times when PR fits into the stereotypes people hold, it most often consists of media and client relations, crisis communications/response, consumer analysis, and more. All to say, the industry requires extremely dedicated, persistent individuals who are dedicated to the work they do.