Punk Rock? Puerto Rico? Progress Report? As a “PR” professional, I throw this abbreviation around so fluidly that I really do believe the average person knows what I’m talking about. Most of the time, people I speak to about my work have either a quizzical look on their face…or a look of fascination. Trust me, my career choice is not glamourous, but I am in the business to make others “look good.”
As of late, the Public Relations industry has taken a few hits in the media. From how Hollywood publicists handle celebrity naked photo leaks to accusing PR professionals as being image gatekeepers for their clients. When I decided to pursue a career in public relations, I was drawn mainly to the ability to shed light on important issues, businesses, causes or organizations who are doing work that make a difference in the community. Traditionally, the tools a PR professional will use to shed light are writing a press release, holding a press conference or crafting a public statement all with the intent of gaining free publicity for our client.
Is it that black and white for me? Well, my answer is, it has to be. Because of the fact that ethics and intentions are far too often questioned for those working in public relations, I need to be clear about what the job is and who I’m doing it for. As you know from my website, I’m a champion for nonprofits and small businesses and my client list will show that these are the types of entities I am drawn to doing work for. Clients like these also don’t have the biggest budgets or resources to create extravagant or even complex PR campaigns. Keeping it simple and honest is really the route they like to take. Same here. Because truly, if the message isn’t genuine or doesn’t come from a place of authenticity, the public (your target audience) will see right through it. And I have not done my job as a PR consultant.
Not all PR work is proactive. Sometimes we have to play defense and react to an unforeseen issue or conflict. Even then, I believe the majority of my peers in the industry will always have the best interest of our client at heart. To take it further than that, we also have to put ourselves in the public’s shoes and ask if the information or message we’re distributing is acceptable, ethical and believable. You see, public relations is really knowing the public and what will connect with the minds and hearts of people. That is a quality of a PR professional that is learned and earned by many years of practice. A quality that is rarely appreciated, but heavily relied on.