By Abby Forman, Account Coordinator, R&J Public Relations
The simple definition of Public Relations is managing the flow of communication between an organization and its publics. But how do we really manage that flow of communication? How do we as PR professionals make sure that that our messages are delivered successfully and correctly? It is a multi-faceted process, and one which requires effective communication in a number of disciplines.
Although there is far more to a comprehensive public relations program than just these four areas, I have found it helps to give my friends and family a clear understanding of what it is that I typically do on a day in/day out basis. I call it the 4 P’s to Public Relations: press releases, pitches, press (media) and parties.
- Press Releases:
The good old press release. As much as we may or may not love writing them, they are a large and essential part of our job as PR professionals. Press releases allow us to attract favorable media attention to our clients and/or their products, services or events. They provide reporters with an information subsidy containing the basic information need to develop a news story. It is through press releases that reporters are able to develop stories they feel will interest their specific publics. As PR professionals, it is our job to make sure that all information and messaging is 100% clear and concise in the press release, and that our client’s message is clearly articulated, as this will reflect the flow of communication and the perceptions of our clients in both the media and the public.
Believe it or not, before I started my career in Public Relations, I had no idea what a pitch was. My first day on the job, my supervisor mentioned the word to me and the only context I could think of had to do with singing. You can imagine the chills that went down my spine at that moment. However, pitching has become something I not only enjoy doing, but in which I have had quite a bit of success. A “Pitch” is a simple communication whose sole purpose is to pique the interest of a journalist. It is not a press release or story; it is more like a highlight reel. In a few short sentences you must capture a reporter’s interest and leave them wanting to know more. Think of the pitch as the ‘teaser trailer’ for a film that makes you want to watch the movie. For me, pitches are easier to write than press releases and they can open the door to getting an article or TV interview that will do great things for your client’s business. It is an awesome feeling to know that your pitch scored an excellent hit for your client.
It is extremely important for Public Relations professionals to develop longstanding relationships with members of the press who cover the industries in which your clients operate. Companies pay public relations agencies to achieve results for them, and these results almost always include mentions in stories and features in print, online and broadcast. The best way to establish a good relationship with a journalist is to make their job easier by delivering high-value content that their readers, listeners or viewers want or need to know. Becoming a trusted source – sharing good, solid information that doesn’t waste the journalist’s time or stretch the bounds of credibility – is a sure-fire way to make sure that the journalist will take your call or read your email when your client has a story to tell.
Many people think PR is all about entertainment, great food, great parties, and lots of drinking. OK, some of that is true. In my short career as a Public Relations professional, I have learned that entertaining both clients and the media is a great way to develop personal relationships with them and to better understand their needs and the pressures that they are under. It’s not a constant party, by any means, but taking clients and/or journalists out for drinks once in a while is a great way to talk business, and to also get to know them on a more personal level. A tremendous amount of valuable content has come out of these types of informal get-togethers, when people share their observations about their industry and the world in general. Likewise, cocktail receptions and media briefings at trade shows over dinner can be extremely valuable.
Public relations is all about getting your client’s message out there and getting it out properly and efficiently. These “4 Ps” have helped me to make that happen for my clients.