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Redefining public relations

Ah, public relations, a term that is as vastly used as it is misunderstood. As a professional working in the PR space, I often find that there are still many misconceptions about the PR industry; and while I do find it infuriating, I've recently realised that it's up to us to not only fix this misconception, but also take charge of redefining public relations in totality.

Adapt, or get left behind

We all know that digital is changing the way everyone does business, but for PRs, the nature of traditional media moving to digital and monetising as fast as they can, can make our job that much harder. After all, part of our job is to secure editorially endorsed publicity for our clients – but the need to make money can mean that freely placed editorial is becoming harder and harder to achieve.

So, what can we do? How can we maintain a historically mutually beneficial relationship, whilst still ensuring that we both get a slice of the pie? Well, we adapt. And anyone in PR worth their salt is an expert adaptor. We find new ways of doing business, we move our timelines into digital feed time, we produce more rich media content, we come at a story with social media, editorial and publishing brains; and we sit down with media and talk. Soon, I believe that PR will actually be more aligned with journalists than it currently is – journalists need content; we can generate it, so why can’t we help each other out?

Diversify, diversify, diversify

Did I mention diversify? Editorial coverage and press releases should be one part of a holistic service. A few years ago, the buzz phrase was 360-degree agencies; and while, yes, this is important, I also feel that it’s kind of a given. We have to be able to offer our clients holistic communication – isn’t that our job? But, we do need to constantly add to our portfolio of services. We have to diversify – and I’m not just talking about putting buzzwords on your website, I mean really, genuinely having value-added services that your clients don’t even realise they need yet. Programmatic advertising a new trend your clients are talking about? Research how you can add it your repertoire and strategically advise your client. We’re lateral thinkers by trade, it’s time we apply it to our industry too.

Trusted, strategic advisors

This is the most underrated description of what true PR is. The means of content delivery has been democratised and a very real element of our value is the role of trusted advisor to our clients, we are sounding boards. The fact that PR gets such a bad rep is ironic, similar to the plumber with leaking pipes. Most of my day is spent strategising with or for clients – and not just for PR strategies. We are able to look at every strategic decision or move, from a communication and reputation mindset, coupled with business acumen that would make financial managers proud. It’s an important skill that’s imperative to thrive in the PR environment, but one that is least spoken about.

So, we, as the PR community, need to take our industry into our own (very capable) hands and redefine it. PR 15 years ago was nothing like it is today, and in 15 years it will undoubtedly be unrecognisable, but if we put in the ground work now, we can at the very least influence what it will look like.

14 Feb 2018 10:42


About Kerryn Lloyd

A technophile and poorly disguised nerd, Kerryn has over seven years' experience in Marketing, Brand Management and Corporate Communications background - with a passion for research, writing and all things digital.