PR for PR: Why image management needs an image boost!

“So you work for an Ad Agency?”

“Ahhh! You mean media?”

“Ok so you are into content creation?”

“Event management, right?”

Mostly these are the kind of responses my 2 minute introduction on what I do elicit. So, what exactly is PR? Yes, it involves some bits of all the aspects mentioned above, but its definition, role, scope and impact is much more and beyond. Till date, I have ridiculously failed to enlighten my family on what exactly I do at work, and I am confident that this post will not accomplish this crucial objective… but I shall still try. My biggest grievance against my chosen profession is this feeling of explaining a secret cult practice and then summing it up as the business of communications. Ironical, right? Business of communications struggles to communicate about itself. A $10bn industry goes unknown while putting clients in the limelight. Tsk tsk.

Unveling the Super Powers of PR !

Ms. Radia, a well known figure in the PR industry had a significant contribution in doing PR for the PR industry. I believe, she was one of the first Indians to catapult our profession from the alleys of anonymity to the front pages and magazine covers, although for seemingly all wrong reasons… but what the heck! Now suddenly PR has started being associated with power, lobbying and manipulation. Sadly, most readers of these front pages will never know that PR is not really Corporate Affairs and Lobbying. These are specialised services and, usually, beyond the realm of PR consulting firms in India.

If I looked beyond my clients, and administered a perception mapping survey of my profession, I am very sure it will throw up some very interesting facts… and some of them may read like this:

  • 98% respondents were  clueless about what exactly PR professionals do
  • 80% believe PR is linked with advertising and events
  • 70% understood PR as a glamorous profession where the professionals just need to attend high-profile events in 5 star hotels
  • The only PR tool respondents were aware of was Press Release
  • 60% believed PR professionals are unethical and unscrupulous

These imaginary stats are basis my numerous interactions with people outside the profession and their “flawed” understanding of our business. Would just like to make yet another attempt to clarify what exactly we do.

What we do?

  • Help brands with their internal and external communications strategy
  • Craft & execute through-the-line communication campaigns – across traditional, digital and social media
  • Manage media queries and map onto relevant opportunities of participation
  • Recommend  appropriate media channels and news pegs
  • Create content – opinion articles, press releases, pitch notes, Q&A, briefing documents, newsletters etc.
  • Organise press conference, media roundtable, edit briefing, media interactions and leverage events
  • Track competitor updates and stay abreast with industry developments
  • Map on to relevant journalists, share story ideas and get them connected with clients

What we don’t do?

  • Act as customer care (Well we do in case there are media requests)
  • Offer discounts on products launched by our clients
  • Only attend high profile events and enjoy the Page 3 life (may be unless you are into lifestyle PR)
  • Crib and rant on unprofessionalism or ignorance of journalists
  • Crumble under the unrealistic demands of our clients
  • PR for us, our work and our superbly interesting career (Where else do you get to interact with company honchos, senior journalists in the first few years of your career?)

So, we may be the select bunch of anonymous, crazy, mostly hated professionals in a thankless job but trust me this is one of its kind professions with extreme highs and lows. The world may not share our joy of jumping at the sight of an article written by a journalist or an opinion piece written by a spokesperson or the high of a well managed event, we shall rejoice and march ahead in glorifying our nameless profession. Kudos to all the anonymous bravehearts!

In case, you have any queries on PR as a profession or rants, tweet me @LizaSaha

Authored by Liza Saha – a true blue digital communications evangelist and a PR maven @ Text 100 (Delhi), who is committed to giving that sexy makeover to her profession.

 

Image courtesy: toobusythinkingboutcomics.blogspot.com

15 responses to “PR for PR: Why image management needs an image boost!

  1. Really loved it. I have told many a times that i work in an Ad agency :P
    1 more addition to ‘What we don’t do’
    We don’t RECRUIT on our client’s behalf either….Most of us have had candidates sending their resumes for a XYZ post in our client’s company

  2. There, you said it ‘Kudos to all the anonymous bravehearts!’

    And if you ask me, sometimes, i even enjoy the perplexed followed by ‘oh ur in media’ looks i get! :P

  3. Nicely put Liza… Sadly some clients have had odd perceptions of PR as well. When I was an AE. I did a new biz meeting with my GM at the time. We were meeting the CEO of a tech start-up and part of his brief was – “I’m NOT one of those guys who you can put a pretty face in front of and I’ll be happy” !!! Aside from being rude with innuendo, what the hell kind of PR agency had he worked with before this or had he at all? I can’t decide whether his warped view came from ignorance or the experience of those infamous ‘client servicing’ folks the industry often refers to. So mom and dad are excused sometimes when even the people you think are evolved spout this rubbish! :)

  4. Haha spot on @Ashwathi I just missed that point. @Aishwarya Hehe I enjoy it too :) @Shahnaz Completely agree with you. What is more annoying is the absolute ignorance of our profession showcased by business heads/marketing heads! And they are the ones taking a call on business decisions without understanding the true value of PR.

  5. Captivating start Liza. The unspoken universal truth.. “What is it that we do for a living?”. Gripping write-up and so true. The business of communication is truly struggling to communicate itself. As rightfully pointed out in the beginning, m still doubtful whether anyone outside of our profession, will still be able to fathom what we really do, and what PR exactly stands for. It bears an analogy to “feeling – It can’t be explained, just can be felt” hahahhaa lol..Soham

  6. This blog is relevant and to the point. Kudos Liza for summing up so well. I will tweet this post twice at am and pm. Thanks to people like you the profession has a brighter future. Keep writing and lets together bust the myths about this beautiful business of creating, managing and repairing reputations.

  7. @Soham Thank you. Glad you enjoyed :) @Amith Thanks a lot for the encouraging words Amith. Together we can make a difference :)

  8. Awesome blog Liza! we all can relate to it. Whenever i try to tell people about my profession they never seem to understand. Most of the time I end up telling them that it is a job related to media.

  9. Shishir Somani

    Very interesting…. also because the same is my observation too,,,,

    Allow me to translate this in Hindi and use some part of it…

  10. A very well expressed piece! i relate to every bit o it, be it explaining people what my profession is or jumping with joy reading a news article!

  11. @Saraswati Thank you :) @Shishir Sure. Please go ahead.

  12. tim deluca-smith

    Are you still not mixing up “what PR does” with “how the PR industry does it”?

    Most of your “What We Do” bullets are tactical activities used to achieve a certain goal. IMHO there should be a very clear hierarchy that can be used to explain the profession.

    1) What PR does: An organsiation has multiple stakeholders (from employees and investors to customers). These stakeholders can have a profound impact on the organisation’s success and relationships with them are most effectively managed through PR.

    2) Why: Organisations will have a variety of reasons; from wanting to influence customer behavior (increase brand awareness) to shaping market dynamics (lobbying) and maximizing corporate value / share price.

    3) How: …as per the tactical approach outlined in your post!

    This is just my opinion of course! Thanks for the post – always good to follow an old agency partner….(hi Shahnaz!)

    TimDS

  13. @Tim Valid observation. Thank you for pointing that out. This post was intended to inform people in a fun manner without getting into the whole industry jargon and explanation. What you have mentioned is more of an academic explanation and this post does not delve into it. Next post, may be :)

  14. Dear Liza,
    Hi, it s a very nice write up………….very true and very honest……..crisp and clear intro of PR for the people who does not have any idea about that.
    let me take this opportunity to appreciate the way you expressed what is PR.
    and that is why you are termed as PRO of Public Relations…..
    well done, keep going….!!

    regards,
    Thasveer.

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