Enter a crowded room at a business function and ask anyone there what Public Relations is and I bet your bottom dollar you would receive a variety of answers. Some good, some not so good.
So many times, even the most experienced business people ask me, “What exactly is PR? What do you do?”
I had a boss once that said; “PR is doing good and telling people about it.” I always loved that description because it was so simple. (No doubt he was tired of being asked what it was all the time and came up with the ‘potted version’ as we like to say in England!)
The truth is, while his mini-summary was cute and appealing, it doesn’t really scratch the surface of what we do. It seems that PR often gets a bad rap – we’re often seen as ‘spin doctors’ and manipulators of truth. The truth is, having worked in the PR industry for ahem, more than 25 years both here in Australia and in the UK, I can honestly say that we are one of the most ethical professional groups of people you can meet.
I say this hand on heart because I do think that as consultants, we are inherently ‘people pleasers’. We genuinely want to give good, sound advice and a professional, practical service that delivers positive and rewarding results. Knock on the door of any PR consultancy after hours and contrary to popular myth, you won’t find us swigging back the bolly at the local wine bar, we’ll be at our desks, heads down tapping away, or frantically stuffing kits and prepping goody bags for the next day.
There’s a lot of work that goes behind the scenes in what is considered to be the glossy world of PR. I remember going to a launch once with a trainee consultant and she couldn’t get over how exciting it was to be travelling there in a limousine with the journalist, a glass of bubbly in hand. Then on the way home, event done and dusted, we were all crammed into a two-door hatch-back stuffed to the brim with signage and samples. It was a bit of a wake-up call for her.
The rise of digital and social media has changed the face of the PR industry radically. It seems that these days, everyone is their own PR person. Content is king and everybody’s doing it – pictures and words, here there and everywhere. But good PR, true PR, is born from deep thinking, from understanding where a company, product or brand is, what the challenges are and how to move it to where it needs to be.
Being heard, being seen, being understood, being loved in all the right places by all the right people. Having and growing fans, supporters, followers yes but mostly attracting and maintaining loyal paying customers who value what you do, what you stand for and will vote with their heart - and purse strings.
This is what we do. Take on a skilled PR consultant and they can move mountains. Shifting perceptions, fostering growth via a treasure chest of tools and techniques that have been worked hard at to master through many long days over many years. Tried and tested and forever changing, adapting to meet the communications changes and challenges taking place in the world today. So, the next time you bump into a PR person at an event, pull up a seat and ask them what they do and you might just get the answer!
About the Author:
Deborah Ivison has over 20 years experience in public relations, both in-house and consultancy, working for both local and global brands and organisations. Deborah established her career working as a publicist for the BBC in London where she was responsible for publicising and promoting popular TV programs, TV tie-ins and celebrities.
In 1997 Deborah assisted in the start up of a medium sized London based consultancy specialising in travel and consumer PR, managing clients such as Cathay Pacific Airways, Insight Holidays, Glenfiddich Scotch Whisky and Ryannair.
Following her move to Sydney, Deborah set up as a freelancer working for clients such as Sony Music, generating publicity for their Australian and international artists. In 2000, she became a group director for Professional Public Relations' consumer lifestyle division where she managed a team of consultants and was responsible for the creative and strategic implementation for a diverse group of consumer clients, including EnergyAustralia, BeefEater Barbecues, Hoover Floorcare, Vitasoy Soymilk, Yahoo! Australia, New Balance and the Public Trustee of NSW.
In 2004, Deborah set up Bay Public Relations with foundation clients, Combined Rural Traders (CRT), Fantastic Furniture and Woodland Home Products... and the agency has gone from strength to strength. Deborah's extensive experience across a wide range of industries and in dealing with a broad cross section of media, has enabled her to take a creative approach to the business of public relations, which many of her clients have benefited from.
Contact Bay PR here: