PR: What the Blazes?

December 1, 2015 |

Public relations. It is a beast unto itself. I often find when asked what PR is, a definition can be hard to pin down.

Journalists frequently describe what we do as the ‘dark side’ of media and at Tank we certainly use the idea of cult and run with it. With so many elements to what we do, it isn’t surprising that the un-initiated can be confused by the role that PR plays in getting coverage for clients.

So what is it?

In short, PR is news creation.

As Glen mentioned a couple of weeks ago, finding a news hook for a client is just the first stage. Pinning down something that will generate organic interest is all part of the creative process, and can stem from very simple beginnings.

Celebrating a milestone might not be especially interesting to the general public, but combine it with a survey, an opinion or comment piece and you engage directly with an audience. It is important to be objective with the stories you want to put across. Will anyone else be interested? Be brutal.

An initial press release is then combined with a sell-in. In layman’s terms, this is pitching a release to a journalist. It’s as simple as picking up the phone and speaking with the most relevant editor or reporter, seeing what stories interest them. Ultimately, they are the ones who decide how newsworthy a release is. Keeping in contact with them, and building relationships with them, can be incredibly helpful long-term, as there are instances when journalists, producers and broadcasters will approach PR agencies directly about other news stories.

See, it really isn’t that complicated.

The job does demand diversity and flexibility: the day to day running of accounts means that areas associated with other fields come into play (and goes someway to helping us make our lives look glamorous). Event co-ordination and social media strategy is a big part of what clients ask of us, generating coverage in ways that audiences connect with. Who doesn’t want to be invited to the latest launch party, or see pictures of who was?

And this is why journalists call it the ‘dark side’. The value in what we do is that audiences aren’t sold to. Nobody likes a hard sell, but raising a question, starting a conversation, building intrigue… These are qualities that advertising and marketing can lack.

Consider us warlocks who create nuance.

Well someone’s got to do it.