PR definitions past and present

In the beginning of this course I remember being asked to define public relations, and to be frank I wasn’t so sure. My initial impressions of Public Relations were compiled from different “job shadowing” experiences and word of mouth. I found it hard to really pin point exactly what a PR professional did everyday. It became more and more clear that PR is incredibly difficult profession to define because it is nearly impossible to truly encompass all that the PR profession entails in one sentence. Although the PRSA did come up with definitions the first definition formally adopted in 1982,  “Public relations helps an organization and its publics adapt mutually to each other.” This definition at the time fit best because public relations main goal is to help organizations reach the public and adapt together. It’s obvious that this simple definition doesn’t contain everything a PR professional would do but it does encompass a main goal of a PR professional. This definition stuck around until a more modern definition in 2012 was reviled. “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” This is the definition today and after learning more about PR I could not have complied a better definition. After this course I realize that the profession of PR is very broad and entails a large range of duties. Depending on where and who you work for your job could be completely different. I’ve also learned a bit about solo PR and what it takes to be successful in that realm. I’ve found that in order to be successful it takes a lot of experience and hard work. Overall, As well as the official PR definition changing my personal definition of PR has changed through this course.

 

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Career Aspirations in PR

 My career aspirations have drastically changed over time, which tends to be the case with almost everyone these days.  From graduating high school with plans to become a special education teacher to then changing my major to dietetics my sophomore year, to now deciding on communications, which seems to be my best fit so far, finally! I can attest to how easy it is to feel like a failure when time after time you can’t decide on what seems to be the most important decision of you’re entire life, your career. But reassuring words from witty mother tend to ring in my ears “I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up” who mind you, is a few months away from retiring. She’s always taught me that its okay to not have it all quite figured out yet. What is most important is that you work you butt off and follow your passions and put your happiness before anything else when choosing a career. I have passions for a wide range of things and I believe if I work hard enough I can turn any passion into my career.

Before entering this classroom I had a very vague idea of what public relations consisted of, when attempting to understand what career might suit me best I sat down with someone in marketing, PR and a few other fields. I can distinctly remember what the woman working in PR had told me about her job and what stood out most to me was how the job was incredibly fun, exciting but very stressful. She claimed she generally doesn’t going to sleep until at least 1am and is often awake at 5am. She made it seem like the work never really ended and it was nearly impossible to catch up. I’m going to be honest and say that a career in Public Relations after that coffee date didn’t seem so appealing. But I’m pleased to say with nearly two weeks left of this course I have changed my mind about a career in PR. I’ve found that I can use my creativity to implement new and improved ideas. Although PR can be stressful it can also be exciting and intense which is something I desire in a future career to keep me interested. In the end I’m not sure where exactly where I’ll end up but in any career it is always helpful to understand other positions you are working with. Overall I feel as if I am leaving this course more prepared and equipped with “real life” experience. 

The Pros and Cons of Solo PR

With almost everything in life, it takes practice and experience before you can be successful on your own. This is especially true with the profession of Public Relations. In order to become a PR expert it’s vital to make connections in person and through digital platforms. Being well connected will aid in all aspects of becoming successful in PR, but more particularly in your search for clients. Connections will also be useful when you can’t provide all the tools your client may need, this way you can refer them to an excellent and reliable person who can get the job done.

Going solo in PR is generally more successful when you have a bit of experience under your belt.  According to Claire Celsi from the Public Relations Princess blog “Hard work is not a substitute for experience. As a senior PR counselor, people pay me for my expert opinion. If you haven’t got experience, a solo practice is not the route to go” Going solo can also have some downsides such as there is a lack of human interaction, if you don’t have a client that day then you might not see another person all day. Taking the incentive to make a coffee date or lunch meeting with friends or co-workers can alter this issue.

Although, when the time comes and you are ready to go solo in PR, the perks can be endless. Let us be reminded of a few, you can be your own boss and in my opinion not much beats the benefits of being your own boss. First of all you can determine your own schedule depending on what works best for you. Another benefit of going solo is you’re able to say no to clients you don’t want to take on. Another huge perk of going solo in PR is creative freedom “Maybe one of the biggest reasons I love this lifestyle. I love the complete freedom (and pressure, mind you) to problem solve on your own. To find creative solutions to client (and business) issues” (Hanson, 2011).  Overall, it’s important to understand what it takes before going solo in PR as well as the cons and the pros of the solo PR life before diving in head first.

Celsi, Claire. (April 7, 2011). What its like to start a Solo PR practice. Retrieved from http://www.publicrelationsprincess.com/2011/04/what-its-like-to-start-a-pr-practice.html

Hanson, Arik. (September 20, 2011). The pros and cons of the solo PR life. Retrieved from http://www.arikhanson.com/2011/09/20/the-pros-and-cons-of-the-solo-pr-life/

Corporate PR vs. Pr Firms

The opinions of whether corporate PR or PR firms are superior for a company are strong and loud coming from both sides. According to a time magazine cover claiming, “PR is dead” it’s easy to claim that corporate PR is dead because… “Almost all of the activities that fell under formerly large corporate PR departments have gravitated to PR firms and especially the press relations part”(O’Dwayer, 2013).  Where on the contrary those who are in favor of “In house PR” or PR corporations claim that the benefits are cost savings and many of the tasks that PR firms accomplish can easily be done “In house”.  This claim is refuted by leggio stating that “anyone who thinks a PR manager can do the work of a PR agency is either cheap, has never had a good PR firm, doesn’t really care, or some combination of all of the above” (Leggio, 2013). Its clear to see that there are strong opinions on both spectrums of this debate.

In order to settle this debate it is important to look at the advantages as well as the disadvantages to see whether Pr firms or Corporate PR are a better choice.  PR firms seem to be thriving immensely. “Fifteen of the 25 biggest PR firms, had double-digit gains in 2012 led by Edelman which grew 12.4% to $655 million” (O’Dwyer, 2013). Public Relations firms are a good choice for companies who are not equipped with the tools to accomplish what they need “in house”. Although, many companies that are just starting up with little to no budget may find it difficult to find the money to spend on a PR firm but depending on the company’s goals the budget may need to be stretched to include a PR firm. A benefit of hiring a PR agency is they come with pre build media relationships. This takes a lot of time and effort and is not an easy task. This also means that it will be easier and quicker to get the press that is desired.

A benefit of “in-house” PR is that “you” know your company the best whereas a PR firm would have to learn the company and therefore they would probably never really know the company as well. An additional advantage of in house PR is “No one cares as much as you do. When someone works for your company, they tend to take ownership of their work. In other words, they buy into what you are doing and it strikes an emotional chord with them. They care. Can you say the same for that agency guy? Maybe not”(Mickie).

Overall, the debate over corporate PR and PR firms comes down to the fact that it hardly matters who does the PR as long as it is done well. Some companies may benefit more from PR firms whereas some companies can satisfy their needs through in-house or corporate PR. The choice between corporate PR and PR firms depends on a few main factors. The factors consist of the goals of the company, the experience of the staff and the budget. In my opinion either option can be a good choice for a company when chosen with thought and the companies specific desires in mind.

References

Kennedy, Mickie. Should you hire a PR agency or Build an In house team? Retrieved from http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/should-you-hire-a-pr-agency-or-build-an-in-house-team/

O’Dwyer, Jack ( July 8, 2013). Corporate PR is Dead. Retrieved from http://www.odwyerpr.com/story/public/781/2013-07-08/corporate-pr-is-dead.html

Conner, Cheryl ( June 3, 2013). What do Pr agencies do? Can you do it too?.Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/cherylsnappconner/2013/06/03/what-do-pr-agencies-do-can-you-do-it-too/

Leggio, Jennifer (May 13, 2013) In the PR agency Vs. In-house PR http://www.forbes.com/sites/jenniferleggio/2013/05/13/in-the-pr-agency-vs-in-house-pr-debate-nobody-wins/