August 7, 2013 by Mindy Mizell
Ask any Public Relations specialist what exactly -is- PR and what they do in their jobs each day, and you will likely get a wide range of answers. Some say it's connecting with media, others work with celebrities, and many spend hours putting together an event with the hopes of raising their brand's visibility. To be fair, PR can emcompass many different job responsibilites so it's not surprising that even the most professional communicators struggle to articulate what it is they really do in a sentence-long soundbyte. Plus, new media and evolving technologies have changed the PR profession significantly, broadening the opportunities for PR on social media and the Internet but also adding even more job responsibilities to the position.
Yet, the goal for a PR specialist is more simple than we give ourselves credit. Boil it all down and you'll find that Public Relations is tasked with simply trying to "relate to the public". All of our innovative tools, tactics and techniques are merely methods we can use to relate to people, but if we take a step back we see that they aren't the end goal in themselves. Basically, relating to the public means we're consistently trying to connect the dots between the goals of our brand and real people. I like to say it's a lot like dating and we're the matchmakers! We're trying to build a relationship between our brand and real people. But just like any good "match", a relationship doesn't stop with just a first date or a first impression. Relationships take time, lots of dating, endless conversations. So how can a PR specialist be a successful MATCH-maker?
Identify your message. What is it your brand is hoping to communicate? And what do you want the listener to do about it? For example, if you're selling a soft drink, what do you want to tell people about your product? Why should they buy it? Perhaps, you won't end up using words to convey your message but feelings or emotions. Still, a PR specialist must always identify first what it is they are trying to accomplish in their message and how they want people to respond.
Think about it...when you have a conversation with anyone throughout your day you're likely to change your tone, approach or mannerisms based upon whom you're addressing. Whether you're talking to your boss, your grandmother or your best friend, your audience matters...and how you communicate to each of them matters too. Identify who your audience is and how you can effectively frame your message based on what you know about them and how you would talk to them if the conversation were one-on-one.
Tools and Transmission
Tools and transmission basically mean HOW you get your information from point A to point B. Whether you're social media or an email to a journalist, there are many different ways to get messages from your brand to people. If you're addressing a reporter, your tools may in-person visits, phonecalls, emails, social media updates, your brand's website (or blog). If you're addressing a teenager, perhaps you'll choose mobile phones, televison or social media or YouTube. Sometimes you need to think outside the box. If your audience is school children, how can you transmit your message to them? Perhaps a presentation at a school assembly. If your audience is a church, maybe you should try emailing a video link by your CEO to pastors? The important thing to think through is simply HOW you can deliver you message. How can you get that message or information from your brand to real people using the communication methods you've got available and the way your audiences obtain information?
After you've identified which tools and transmission methods you have available, think back to what your original message was and who you identified as your audience. What does your message now look like? Perhaps, it's a Twitter post on social media or a press release to a journalist. Maybe you want to create a video that a teenager can view from their mobile phone or an infographic that can be posted on your brand's website. Perhaps you have an internal spokesperson who can write a blog that you then circulate on social media.
How'd you do?
It's not always easy to measure results as a PR specialist given the many different tasks we do in our jobs, however measurement is critical to showing your managers that your role is essential and effective. It's important to work with your social media, media relations and web teams to determine how you can measure how many people were exposed to your message and responded to it. Think about how many "eyeballs" saw your messages or heard your information and how you can showcase those results. Perhaps, it's how many Twitter followers or retweets you had or how many viewers/readers (or circulation) were exposed to a news article published by a reporter.
Just like in dating, matchmaking takes persistence, determination and commitment. Relating to people takes time and it doesn't always come easy. An effective PR specialist must continually change gears in order to relate to different groups of people with the same message but in the end, relating or building a relationship is at the core of your brand's mission.