Four months ago I posted a blog called “What the Heck is Public Relations?”. In that blog, I talked about my preconception of what PR was and what it actually was. After doing some research I learned more about the industry and found that public relations is all about forming relationships between a brand and a consumer. One of the biggest realizations that I came to when writing that blog was the fact that a lot of PR is done behind the scenes. I also made it clear that it is not the job of a PR practitioner to stretch or exaggerate, but to tell the truth. The last point I made in that blog was stating that the public relations industry is constantly changing, and that’s true. Since I posted that blog I’ve learned a lot about what being a PR practitioner is all about and what the day to day looks like.
My previous conclusion about public relations practitioners working behind the scenes was correct, but it goes even farther than that; nothing done in a campaign is spontaneous or without thorough research. Every single day during a campaign period is planned out, the tactics for that day have been deeply researched and vetted by the entire team before anything actually happens. After looking at a detailed Gantt chart one can see how the routine of a PR practitioner and the campaign made for a client is extremely dependent on scheduling.
The second point I made was that a public relations practitioners must be honest and never stretch the truth. This is still one of the most important things about PR, never lie to the consumers. First off, they won’t trust you if you lie, and secondly, it’s simply not ethical to create relationships and sell products based on lies. Not only is it crucial to never stretch the truth, I now understand that it is the truth can be manipulated by the public and the media, and often times a PR practitioner can not attempt to defend their client, and instead, they must accept the “truth” of a situation and simply apologize. I dealt with crisis public relations in my blog “Learning from the Chipotle Crisis”. When nineteen people in the Washington state and three people in Portland, Oregon got sick Chipotle decided to temporarily close forty-three of their locations. The problem with this whole situation is that their linkage between E-coli and chipotle was only assumed, the bacteria was never directly correlated with the burrito franchise, but regardless the public relations team at Chipotle had to react and accept the “truth” being put forward by the masses. This can be frustrating at times, but it is the job of a PR practitioner to roll with the punches and still come out on top.
A third point that I had made in my first blog was that the public relations industry is constantly changing. I stand by this, just like any industry, the job and the employees must adapt to what their consumers and clients are asking for. Public relation is no different, the industry is becoming increasingly specialized where a practitioner can now choose if he wants to work for medical brands, sports teams and products, or my personal favorite, outdoor and adventure brands. In my blog “Adventure Public Relations and Marketing”, I talked about my desire to work as a practitioner in the outdoor industry. What’s great about PR is that it allows you to do just that. A lot of this is due to social media. Since the late 90’s social media has become a way for people to connect with others from all over the world. Businesses and brands have found a need to create a social presence and throw their hat in the ring. Because of this brand are forced to create a personal voice, that’s where public relations come in. Social media is all about connections and so is public relations, people now expect companies to have relationships with the public, so everyone needs PR.
In conclusion, the things that I have learned in the past four months have not changed my views on public relations but they have increased my knowledge of how in depth the industry really goes. I never thought that a campaign could be as detailed as they are, and how intense the research for each tactic can be. I’ve learned that while it is the job of a PR practitioner to preach the truth, it can sometimes be just as important to accept the “truth” created by the media and the public, while this can be frustrating, it’s the way it’s going to be. And lastly, I’ve learned that PR practitioners now have the option to specialize in a field of Public Relations that they like the most, which can me the job that much better.