Defining PR: Simply Multifaceted

From Flickr photostream by Danielle Pearce

All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.
-William Shakespeare

One of my Twitter acquaintances and a fellow solo PR pro, Shonali, posted an article today that got me thinking: If I can’t communicate to my own friends and family what it is that I do as a “PR” or “communications” expert, how can I expect to communicate well on behalf of my clients?

As a freelance communications professional, it is hard to fit what I do into just one box – it’s PR, writing, editing, strategic thinking, implementing and learning about social media, etc. etc. Generally, these could all fall into the category of “communications.” Hence, my approach to “Backstage Communications.”

However, I also do believe that all of these jobs fit into a larger understanding of public relations. My own definition of PR is very simple: it’s how you communicate your messages to the audiences you care about. As Shonali points out, it’s so much more than just press releases, media relations and publicity. She puts it this way:

It means figuring out

What your story is,

Why it matters

Who you’re trying to tell it to, and

Where, When and How you’re going to do it.

Seems simple, right? Well, so do some recipes. But that doesn’t mean that I end up burning dinner if I don’t plan ahead.

Figuring out the answers to these questions generally requires copious amounts of research, many, many drafts of message development, blood, sweat, tears and finally more research.

Those of us in the communications and PR professions will continue to have to help people understand what we do. (I’m pretty sure my dad still thinks I’m in advertising, despite numerous attempts to explain the difference).

Maybe we are all so focused on delivering the best strategies and exploring the most innovative tactics for our clients that we don’t have time to explain and revise our own job descriptions. And if that means more people will pay attention to my clients instead of my own behind-the-scenes work, that’s ok with me. After all, I’m just setting the stage for my clients to shine!


3 thoughts on “Defining PR: Simply Multifaceted

  1. Lelia, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Your comment about your dad still thinking you’re in advertising was funny; and our friend Jon Newman (@jonnew) made a similar comment in a similar post, titled What Is PR.

    What we do is multifaceted, true, and it’s tough to explain to non-PR people. But I think we need to get to the point where, as I said over at Jon’s blog, we can explain what we do just as a plumber, carpenter or painter can.

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