‘’What do you actually do?” is a question I am still often asked, when I tell people that I work in PR. Many people, like my mum for a long time, think I work in advertising or marketing, sometimes even journalism, but people rarely know what I really do. This has resulted in a pretty perfected pitch on what PR is, which I have refined quite exceptionally, or at least I like to think so.
This general lack of understanding is I believe, due to the fact that the lines and boundaries between PR, advertising and marketing are becoming increasingly blurred. If, after reviewing the above image (which is scarily accurate), you are still baffled, well the following may or may not be particularly enlightening.
The PR industry is ever evolving and as much as we might try to resist the changes, particularly when it comes to the evolving media landscape, the ever increasing importance of social media and the online world. These factors have become an essential part of PR. An example of this is how Twitter, a somewhat self indulgent outlet for many, and one which I personally took a while to make friends with, has evolved whether we like it or not, into one of the major forces driving the global news agenda.
The main media contacts for PRs are undoubtedly still the journalists at all the major news outlets. But increasingly PRs have to engage with bloggers, tweeters and the general public. The mainstream media is changing so fast and new outlets are cropping up so quickly that the PR professional needs to possess an increased level of flexibility and forward thinking. And with the demise of the News of the World and the ongoing Leveson Inquiry, journalism is becoming increasingly volatile.
There are many factors which have affected the PR industry such as the move of many publications from print to online. The global economic crisis, as challenging as it has been for many, has opened up an increasing demand for PR, despite the fact that many companies tend to cut their PR budget, as it is seen as a ‘luxury’ rather than a necessity. Already as it is, journalists often rely on the news provided by PRs for their bread and butter, but with an increase in journalist redundancies and less journalists to send out to find news stories, they are turning more and more to PRs for quick and easy stories to fill the pages of both print and online publications. Many of those who leave the media are turning to what most journalists see as ‘the dark side,’ more commonly known as PR.
The PR industry is rapidly growing, making the landscape increasingly competitive. Maybe in order to continue to evolve, PR needs to one day combine forces with marketing and advertising, offering clients a range of capabilities and an eclectic service. If PR does go this way, well our explanation as to what PR is and what we actually do will be made significantly easier!
With a few days off work between jobs, as you can see I’ve had plenty of time on my hands to muse over where PR may or may not be going.