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Wikipedia defines Public Relations as “the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.” This sounds pretty simple. But for anyone who has ever worked in public relations, you know that “simple” is not how you would describe your job.

Wikipedia defines Public Relations as “the practice of managing the flow of information between an organization and its publics.”  This sounds pretty simple. But for anyone who has ever worked in public relations, you know that “simple” is not how you would describe your job.

A lot of people don’t understand the function of public relations. When I tell someone outside of the marcomm industry what I do, I usually hear “So it’s like Advertising?” or “So you’re a writer?” or I get a polite nod or blank stare.

It’s not always the easiest job to explain – mainly because so many public relations professionals serve in different ways. Some strictly handle events, some only contact the media and some write articles and blog posts or run social media accounts. 

To fully understand public relations, it helps to see it in action, and you can, in fact, see it at work all around you. Do you ever flip through a magazine and see products splashed all over a page with some magazine copy in between? Or read an article where an expert source is quoted? Or watch a news segment in which a local expert is being interviewed? A PR person pitched all of these. They emailed or called the reporter and explained why the product, service or topic would be relevant to the reporter’s audience. For example, were you wondering how so many reporters knew every little detail about the new iPad before it even hit the shelves? It was Apple’s PR gurus at work spreading the product details and sending out samples to editors they deem as key targets. And it worked didn’t it? Apple didn’t need to work very hard to get the news out – the editors did it for them.

Other public relations duties involve planning and executing events, managing social media campaigns, attending trade shows, pitching clients as speakers at industry events, speech-writing, setting up appearances on TV and radio talk shows and writing collateral such as emails, newsletters, bylined articles, case studies and blogs.

PR is a client-centric job, and to do well by our clients, we need to be dialed in to their needs, their industry and their goals 24/7. Did you wake up to a front page article about a competitor? Is there a breaking story that your client is a perfect source for? Did that reporter whom you’ve been dying (DYING!) to get in touch with finally respond to your email? These are the things that dictate a public relations professional’s day.

Kate Toy is a Senior Account Manager at Domus, Inc., a marketing communications agency based in Philadelphia. For more information, visit http://www.domusinc.com/. For new business inquiries, please contact CEO and founder of Domus, Inc. Betty Tuppeny at betty.tuppeny@domusinc.com or 215-772-2805.

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