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When it comes to public relations a lot of people assume it’s strictly a relationship with the media. After all, Elon Musk thinks that what it is so it must be true, right? If you’re curious what he really said, read this article by Fred Lambert from electrek.
Maybe some of the explanations below will help Elon understand what PR actually means and what value professionals bring to the table for their clients and brands. Read onward for _ ways to explain public relations and feel free to use these answers when you’re parents or friends ask, “What actually is public relations?”
How would you explain Public Relations to those who don’t know what it is? #prrequest
— 🤙 Jered Martin 🤙 (@JmoMonk) April 6, 2021
Let’s start with some serious answers. Sarolta Acs shares a great answer we can all reflect on:
Huh, I’ve tried this a couple of times! My best shot so far:
Build trust towards a brand through constant and transparent communication on selected channels that suits the brand best.
— Sarolta Ács (@SaroltaPR) April 6, 2021
Building trust, communicating clearly, and selecting the right channels will help you reach the public in a genuine way. After all, we know how little consumers trust ads nowadays, however, positioning PR with ads can have a much greater impact. Here’s an article from Daniel Carnahan who shares more about this topic.
Mindy Hamlin chimes in with her honest and unique take:
I think that simply put, PR is building relationships with the communities organizations depend on and impact. I also like to explain that it extends beyond stories in the newspaper to community and social media engagement. All in an effort to strengthen the organization’s brand.
— Mindy Hamlin (@mindyhamlinpr) April 7, 2021
PR goes well beyond a story in a publication. It’s the relationship between a company and its public and now more than ever social media is a channel where nearly EVERYONE is active.
Carol Lin Viera has a great (hidden) comparison between marketing and PR:
Getting buzz for a brand without paying for ads.
— Carol Lin Vieira (@carollinvieira) April 6, 2021
I hear this answer quite often: PR is earned whereas marketing is paid. Although the example above about tying ads with PR can work wonders, it’s important to note PR is not paid advertising.
Robert Cubitt reflects the same sentiment:
PR aims to access sources of publicity that don’t have to be paid for, eg getting a newspaper to run an article about you, getting a radio interview etc. Compared to advertising which always has to be paid for.
— Robert Cubitt Author (@robert_cubitt) April 6, 2021
Tonya McKenzie has an insightful explanation that resonates with me and hopefully you too:
PR is the art of getting people to know, like, and trust a brand or you through strategic storytelling. 😊
— 🟣 Tonya McKenzie, LA County Commissioner (@TonyaMcKenziePR) April 6, 2021
PR is all about storytelling and being a strong writer is so important in this profession. If you read this far hopefully you aren’t turned off by mine 🙂
Tom Sommers also provides an interesting take:
Communications to positively explain a company’s or individual’s behavior in the public’s interest/benefit.
— Tom Sommers (he/him/his) (@tomsommers1) April 6, 2021
What I love most about this is that Tom is a columnist and editor so he’s speaking from “the other side of the fence” about the meaning of PR. Having a journalist’s input on this is a great way to see from their side of things.
Now, let’s take a look at some less serious and more playful responses. The first is from Tricia Richards-Service:
When you’re asked on a date by someone. Advertising is when another person tells you, “That person who asked you out is wonderful. They gave me $10 to say that.” PR is when another person says, “That person who asked you out is wonderful. Great reputation.”
— Tricia Richards-Service, PhD (@drtprs) April 7, 2021
Well said, Tricia!
Marie Cook shares a PR analogy she overheard on The PR Podcast:
Adapting what I heard recently on @ThePRPodcast1 – PR is when you’re at a party and other people are talking about you instead of you talking about yourself (cuz that’s marketing)
— Marie Cook (@mdalycook) April 6, 2021
This is a party trick I plan on releasing this summer. Stay tuned!
Paul Wilkie chimes in courtesy of his son’s interpretation:
My son said it best when he was younger and was asked what his dad did for a living. His response: “My dad writes emails.”
— Paul Wilke (@pwilke) April 6, 2021
I think a lot of us could agree even those who are not PR pros.
One of the most genuine and honest sweet explanations comes courtesy of Lou Hoffman’s mom:
My mom gives it a shot https://t.co/x9ogPh3T5P
— Lou Hoffman (@LouHoffman) April 6, 2021
PR is all about relationships, trust, and public perception. That is certainly my opinion but I’d say based on the above most of the respondents would agree to some degree. Speaking of degrees, check out another Twitter question thread we wrote up last week about the pros and cons of a degree in PR.
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