What is Public Relations?
Public Relations is a set of activities that companies carry out to build trust with specific groups of people in order to develop and maintain a certain reputation that: reinforces brand loyalty, drives sales and promotes positive feedback about the business.
PR activity is based around what the company says, does, supports and believes in. PR differs from Advertising in the similar way that PPC differs from organic SEO, they are both working towards similar goals but Advertising is paid and PR is about organic, long-term reputation growth and enhancement. You can pay PR agencies and professionals to carry out work for you but you can’t pay publishers to feature you (unless they are dodgy!)
For this reason PR activity tends to have a much higher value and long term impact when successful. Any business can pay to place an advertisement but it takes time and effort to develop and shape a reputation through PR. PR often appeals to the emotive side of individuals; how they feel and what their beliefs.
What does Public Relations cover?
Some of the public relation activities a company may carry out include, but are not limited to;
Media relations: Writing and editing press releases to send to journalists. Developing relationships with journalists and media representatives. Conducting interviews, press conferences and developing content such as press tool-kits.
Research: Staying informed of current news and events that could have an effect on the company and also predicting the impact of future or potential events. Researching journalists relevant to your company and networking to build relationships.
Events: Hosting and appearing at events is a way to develop and reinforce the reputation with specific groups and communities.
Strategy: Developing PR strategies in line with marketing goals and organisational objectives, carrying out ad-hoc work such as a creating PR crisis strategy to mitigate reputation damage caused by an unexpected event.
Internal relations: Employees are ambassadors of the company and brand, ensuring they see the company in a positive light is important to the overall PR strategy. Sharing news of work and events happening around the company can help inform employees and engage them about the positive things happening in and around the business, instilling fulfillment and creating a better environment to work in.
What skills do I need to work in PR?
Communications skills are central to PR, you will be required to develop and maintain relationships with journalists and media figures in order to get your message published. Communication is central to everything including the campaigns you develop you will be writing to influence the reputation of the business so you need to be able to understand a range of writing styles and be tuned in to the style of communication required to connect with the desired audience.
Writing skills go hand-in-hand with communication since most PR campaigns take form as written work. Experience in writing for a range of purposes and platforms such as: blogs, magazines, websites and social media are all great to build up if you want to go into PR. The more experience you have of writing for a range of different outlets the better.
Research underpins most marketing roles and its essential to PR. If you are communicating a specific topic in your PR campaign you need to be knowledgeable and have all the facts on it if you want to be taken seriously by readers, so researching and understanding the market is key to implementing a successful campaign.
Creativity is essential for the right content for specific audiences and finding topics that journalists find interesting enough to pick up and run with.
Knowledge of the various media platforms and channels that PR campaigns can be executed through.
Being constantly up to date with what is going on in and around the business that could affect it.
Do I need any qualifications?
Not necessarily but employers will usually look for a combination of skills and experience, this could be demonstrated purely through experience or a combination of qualifications and experience. It all takes equal amount of work but if you want to gain a qualification in PR before launching your career here are a number of PR specific course but please ensure you do your own research as this is just a brief overview:
University of Greenwich – Public Relations and Communications BA Hons
View a complete list of university courses in PR on the CIPR website
CIPR – Diploma in Public Relations
What is the salary range like for jobs in PR?
PR Assistants can expect to earn around £18000-£20000 with more experience Assistant earning upto £23,000.
PR Executives, Account Managers and Coordinators can expect to start on around £22,000, with the average more experience PR exec taking home around £25,000 and the top end being £30,000.
PR Managers can typically expect to salary of at least £30,000 but at the top end of the scale this could be as much as £50,000. The typical salary is around £35-£40,000.