What actually is public relations? This is the most common question asked to me when people find out what I do for a living. It’s ironic that the public relations industry could actually be terrible when it comes to its own PR.
And to be honest, I didn’t have the complete picture of public relations when I first started – I had this whole idea in my mind that it would be this incredibly fast-paced crisis comms environment.
Definition of PR from my colleague Kyle Grizzell:
PR stands for Public Relations and involves relating with the public, so it does what it says on the tin. Mostly. More specifically, it is about shaping how information from a company or individual is shared with the public so it has the desired effect on public perception or behaviour.
However, the reality is completely different (and much better) than I first thought! Below are four things about PR I wish I’d known earlier that I’d like to share, especially with those who might not be familiar with what we do and are considering a career in PR.
- Learning as you go is okay
- It's a team game
- Communication really is key
- Keeping up with news is a must
Learning as you go is okay!
Going into PR can be really scary! I was worried that I’d be expected to know everything! Yes, my journalism background came in very handy, but there was still so much to learn – this is okay. A good team, like the one at BlueSky Education, trains new graduates and those joining the industry in what they need to know. For instance, we still provide a rigorous training programme which includes how to craft effective press releases, what the media landscape looks like in our sector, and much more.
I wasn’t expected to know everything, and it was widely accepted that in this industry you learn as you go. You are not going to know straightaway how journalists like to be pitched, or how your clients like to work. This is a learning process!
It’s a team game
A common misconception is that PR is a brutal industry, and that most people only look out for themselves and their clients. I can say for absolute certainty that this is not true, at least it’s not here at BlueSky Education. When I started here, I was so surprised by how helpful everyone was, and how supportive everyone is of each other and their clients.
This was further emphasised when the pandemic hit, just six months after I started my job (and had only just finished my training). We would do group pitches, work together to get many clients into key articles, suggest potential opportunities to different clients – even if they weren’t an account we directly worked on – and we still do all of this today. The team offered me so much advice and support, even from home, which for me personally was so helpful.
This all changed my perception of PR; it really is a team game and what makes a company so successful.
Communication really is key
The news is always very fast paced and, as a result, so is PR as we need to keep up with the current news cycle. For this reason, most PR professionals are juggling multiple things at once, which is why communication is key. No small detail can be overlooked as once it has been sent out to media, you can’t take it back – it can be edited or a revision sent out but it is best to get it right on the first try.
It is also essential to have good communication within your team, by this I mean having regular calls to discuss your clients, plan of action etc. and keeping relevant colleagues in the loop if you’re taking leave. Being on it with your communication will help massively in the long run.
Keeping up with news is a must
Now I wasn’t naïve enough to think I didn’t need to read/watch the news in this role, but you should anticipate how much news you need to keep up with. I used to skim read through a couple of news stories every morning to get a gist of the days event, and to keep up with current affairs.
Now, I invest even more time actively reading most breaking news stories, but also key topics I know my clients focus on including business, sustainability, hospitality and finance. I also read from multiple news outlets, based in the UK and around the world, whether that’s right-wing, left-wing, and neutral papers to have a balanced view of current events.
Why do I do this? Because it is essential to getting my clients in the right news outlets. Seeing what topics are trending, means I can reach out to my contacts and offer my clients expertise to help with an article their writing.
So, that’s just a few things I wish I knew before starting PR – I hope this helps you too!