What does a public relations agency do?

QuestionMarkNo, seriously! Perhaps you’ve come here looking for public relations help with your company or a job in the field, or maybe you simply stumbled across our blog (in that case, hello and welcome!). But either way, there’s a good chance you may find yourself asking that very question at one point or another.

And you’re not alone. There’s a reason we have a dedicated Facebook page about the fact that explaining what we do can be tough – even for us folks in the industry!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve fielded questions from people about “ads” or “articles” at personal gatherings and family functions when the inevitable job topic arises. I don’t think I’ve ever described it the same way twice; the definition may start off the same, but it usually ends up taking different paths each time, based on the audience and the types of questions they’re asking.

And rather than give a tactical rundown of a ‘typical’ days’ worth of activities (e.g. writing a press release or pitch, tweeting, calling media contacts, brainstorming during a messaging session, monitoring client and competitor news), it’s oftentimes more effective to address the actual purpose of our job – meaning raising awareness, shaping a brand, influencing demand, generating leads, and much, much more.

So, inspired by a recent Forbes article on the topic, we decided to tackle the topic ourselves. See below for a sampling of some of the PerkettPR staff’s perspective on wrangling the ever-evolving definition of PR and what it is we’re doing here:

“One of my favorite quotes having to do with the definition of PR is from Reader’s Digest, attributed to M. Booth and Associates: “If the circus is coming to town and you paint a sign saying ‘Circus Coming to the Fairground Saturday,’ that is advertising. If you put the sign on the back of an elephant and walk it into town, that is promotion. If the elephant walks through the mayor’s flower bed, that is publicity. And if you get the mayor to laugh about it that is public relations.’ But even though this definition drives at the heart of PR, what we do encompasses a whole lot more than that!”

“On a daily basis our roles are ever-changing and hard to define – from media relations, crisis communications, social media, copywriting, event coordination, C-level strategy sessions, reputation management, videography, web design, customer service, infographic creation, etc. But the one constant is the overarching common thread between them that stays the same – the value we add by earning people’s attention though a thorough understanding of our audience(s), well-crafted stories and good old-fashioned communication skills.”

“Public relations is a form of marketing where I utilize my writing and communication skills to make the public understand my company’s product or technology. It is my job to spread the word about the product or technology in a positive way to keep customers coming back again and again.”

“When I started in this business, I thought of my job as creating awareness. And while I think that’s still true, the way we accomplish this has changed dramatically. Now I tend to think of PR as a form of content creation. Whether it’s creating news via press releases; visuals such as infographics or video; events like Twitter chats or Google Hangouts; or creating community via engagement across social channels; these efforts and the resulting content combine to create awareness for our clients. Regardless of how we define PR and the role agency plays, there’s no doubt we play an important part in our clients’ success directly and indirectly.”

“Defining PR is no easy feat – especially as its definition is constantly evolving. Good PR, however, is the process of building relationships, creating conversations, influencing the news while shaping a company’s brand perception. It’s how a company engages, discusses and fosters positive awareness with the right audience at the right time using the right medium. PR is powerful, and Bill Gate’s summed it up the best when he said, ‘If I was down to my last dollar, I’d spend it on public relations.’”

Got anything to add to our descriptions of the PR function? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

Persuasive Picks for the week of 07/11/11

circle_c.jpgThe 5 Es of Content Marketing
ConversationAgent‘s Valeria Maltoni shares five inspirational tips to help writers take advantage of the “lazy days” of summer by pushing forward and gaining traction with their content creation and marketing efforts.

4 [Social Media] Failures and a Success
Sometimes the best way to learn is through your mistakes. This time around, IT blogger Peter Thomas share four of his own failures and the lessons he learned along the way. He caps off his SocialMediaToday.com post by sharing one of his personal successes as well.

How the U.S. Army is Using Social Media
ReadWriteWeb‘s Founder & Editor-in-Chief  shares this very interesting look into how the U.S. Army uses the web and various social platforms to share stories, interact with its online community and enhance recruiting efforts.

5 Reasons Google+ Is Not A Facebook Killer
Google+ has certainly been the focus this past week as millions of users rush through the flood gates to kick the tires on the new shiny social platform. However, not everyone is convinced that Google has come up with something that can be in it for the long haul. Dave Davies provides five reasons why in this post on SearchEngineWatch.com.

The Four Fundamentals of Social Media
Digital Media Consultant Dan Taylor shares a ton of great information and advice to businesses that might be trying to do everything all at once when it comes to their social media presence.

Image Credit: Leo Reynolds

Persuasive Picks for the week of 04/18/11

Content Delivery Are You in Charge of Content Delivery?
Valeria Maltoni expands on how content creation and distribution is changing the face of marketing – and that companies (both SMB and Enterprise) need to understand the importance of using content to meet business objectives.

Say it with Me: ‘Social Media is Part of Marketing’
Many marketers are drawn to social media with the impression that it can provide instant gratification, and most are sorely disappointed after approaching it with that attitude. This SocialMediaToday post from Wendy Bryant urges marketers to view social media as an integrated part of their overall marketing strategy, and she shares a personal experience of how human connection and social media make for marketing success.

5 fantastic examples of interactive video
Many brands have started experimenting with their online video efforts by adding interactive elements to their productions that help drive user engagement and provide a more direct call to action. This iMediaConnection post from Dave Sanderson provides five examples of brands that have incorporated interactive elements into their efforts and the reasons why each one was a success.

Which Social Media Channels Matter the Most?
Choosing which social media platform will get the most attention can be a challenging, but necessary, task. Marketer Ernan Roman provides some insight on how to go about selecting the correct channels on which to focus your interactions – via this article on HuffingtonPost.com.

Social Media Usage By SMBs Often Ad-Hoc
InformationWeek‘s Kevin Casey shares the results of a recent SMB Group study that revealed while small- and medium-sized businesses are more apt to engage in social media than in prior times, many are still doing so without any formal strategy in mind.

 

Persuasive Picks for the week of 06/07/10

Social Media Marketing: You Have To Be Consistent
Congratulations! You’ve just made the first step towards getting your
feet wet in the sea of social media! But, do you have what it takes to
stay afloat? This post by Ely Delaney on Gather.com explains one of the keys to social media success.

The Ten Myths of Creating Web Content
Joe Ciarallo from Mediabistro’s PRNewser shares 10 web content creation myths and tips that bust them as presented by College Humor founder Ricky Van Veen at the Mashable Media Summit.

Social strategy: Web integration to leverage brand advocacy
Charles Nicholls explains why people tend to follow their favorite brands online, and explains how many companies are missing out by not leveraging this “gift horse.”

Coca-Cola Follows a New Social Media Strategy

Natalie Johnson, Digital Communications Manager for Coca-Cola states “When you think about what your homepage is … it’s not necessarily just your brand page. It’s Google.com. It’s Digg. It’s Twitter. It’s YouTube. It’s Facebook.” This post on Popsop.com provides some insite on that thinking and how Coca-Cola is implementing a new online strategy for increasing brand mentions.

Apple’s Worst Security Breach: 114,000 iPad Owners Exposed
The wildly popular iPad suffered its first blemish this week, but Apple recovered quickly. Luckily, I’m still keeping my iPad at the local Apple store, so I wasn’t affected by the breach.  :)

Photo Credit: Janine

 

Meeting of the New Marketing Minds, Part 2

This is Part 2 of my series of takeaways from the 2008 New Marketing Summit at Gillette Stadium. Part 1 focused on the importance of listening. Today I’ll share some of the ideas mentioned around becoming a content creator.

Content Creation – Be the publisher!
Content Creation

During a panel moderated by Paul Gillin, William Cava (Ektron), Darren Guarnaccia (Sitecore), John Munsel (Bizzuka) and Peter Nieforth (Documetrics) defined content marketing as “using content to drive behavior and action.” In today’s environment, ultimately everyone has the opportunity to be a marketer.

Another point they discussed was unlocking your content. Take down those web forms because you are losing 95% of your potential readership. Try looking for different ways to engage with the reader and give THEM the option to give out their information in return – you will see a greater success rate with this open mentality.

Cava stressed that organizations should not underestimate the power of fresh content, and it should be treated like a living, breathing thing. Avoid “Content Rot” explained Gillin. A steady schedule of new content will keep your site fresh and will help drive SEO.

Some suggestions discussed during the panel for getting more mileage out of existing content include:

  • Post a video. Tape simple events your company might be involved with. The company BBQ, a re-enactment of the scene from “Office Space” that involves the office printer and a bat. This type of content creation is easy to develop, free, and it works to drive visitors.
  • Viral videos. Ok, everyone knows you can’t “make” a video go viral – you can just post it, promote it and hope for the best, but again, it is another avenue for attracting eyeballs and getting people to interact with your company/brand.
  • Press release – yes, they said press releases. As more people are doing away with the press release, there is not as much noise.

During Gillin’s own keynote presentation “Why Content is the New Currency of Marketing” he stressed that while marketers no longer have control over what customers are saying about them, they can and should participate in the conversations. Using the same tools as customers, marketers no longer need the media to help influence public opinion, they can do it themselves!

Stay tuned for the third and final part of this wrap-up series coming up tomorrow.