At the beginning of the fall semester, I was given the task of defining public relations in my own words. At the time, I had only known public relations to be a “behind the scenes” and “getting your hands dirty” type of field where people focus on the communication process (with the intended audience) with the opportunity to plan and coordinate events when asked. Having re-read this post here at the end of the semester, I can’t say that I was too far off–but boy was I wrong. To see exactly what I said, visit my blog post at:
Was I right to say that the majority of work done by public relations teams is done behind the scenes? Absolutely. Was I right to say that public relations teams get their hands dirty when they work? Of course. Was I right in describing some of the work that these teams do? HA! Boy, did I undersell it.
Depending on the exact project given to a public relations team, the workload can range anywhere from doing nearly nothing, to doing absolutely everything. For example, a PR team may do something as small as give a company some insight on what to do to gain attention or how they can do it; a PR team may do as much as give a company this information, generate a plan of attack that includes a schedule, and continue on to implement it in every facet and evaluate the results. Other work can fall anywhere between these points.
Playing football for ten years and continuing to follow the sport today, I feel as though a public relations team is very comparable to a team’s offensive lineman. For those unfamiliar with the analogy, an offensive line is responsible for knowing the play, knowing what their teammates are responsible for, knowing what the defense intends to do, and understanding (with all of that information) how to defend their team and drive them down the field. In the PR world, one must know the company or brand they are representing, what the overall goal is, why that goal is important and how it will benefit the brand or company, and of course how to reach that goal in the end. The two may not always get the credit that they deserve, but for those who know what they did, the gratitude is endless.
Stepping away from what we know public relations is, what public relations is not is obviously advertising and marketing; however, this is not to say that all three are not directly involved. Although public relations, advertising, and marketing have separate definitions, the three are still severely intertwined and work together well. Most commonly, it is up to the public relations team to use an advertisement, or for a public relations team to use a market or marketing strategy, and integrate them into their plans.
With this semester coming to a close, I believe myself to have a much tighter grasp on how difficult, frustrating, exciting, and intense the public relations world can be. With tasks and clients changing almost every day, public relations keeps you on your toes and forces you to focus on every detail to find success. Having a better understanding of what the public relations world and workload entails, I could very well see myself working in the PR field in the future–even as an advertising emphasis.
Matt Henkel | GVSU | 11 December 2017