With a following of more than 4,400, I assume this aptly titled facebook group is not just a tongue in cheek play at the supposed ignorant masses, but more of a cry of frustration from an embattled group of PR professionals! Ok, that may be slightly melodramatic.
Like all support groups (momentarily forgetting that I have never actually been a member of a support group – although something I might consider in future if my shoe collection keeps expanding at its current rate), I find it is important to share a qualm such as this with like minded individuals in order to gain understanding and formulate a workable solution. Or at the very least it gives us a sympathetic ear to whinge to.
To understand the frustrations of a PR professional all you need to do is put together a list of the people in your life such as friends, family and even clients at work, and it becomes obvious just how easily definable most peoples professions are.
Take for instance;
My parents are both teachers – simple. My brother in law is an engineer –another concise, one word answer to that loaded question, ‘what do you do?”. And out of my friends one is a lawyer, one’s a nurse, one is in sales, another’s a teacher- all one word responses with comprehensive connotations.
Now if I had a solid ten minutes to run people through what I do at work, and what I achieve, I’m sure they would be suitably impressed and possibly even emerge with a new found respect for Public Relations. Unfortunately this is not usually the context.
“So what do you do for work?”
“I do PR, what do you do?”
“Oh great, my sister is a PA. Is your boss nice?”
Filling out forms at bank/post office/generally
“Profession: Public Relations”
“Is that like customer service?”
Yes, I work in a call centre.
“So, you said you do PR? Do you get free drinks when you do those alcohol promotions at the pub?”
Absolutely! Plus I get to wear a bright yellow, vinyl, cat suit with a beverage brand name across the front of it. Yep. That’s what I do at work every day.
You would think that as PR professionals we should all be able to explain what we do. We are highly skilled communicators, correct? We are articulate, literate, and great at conveying messages across different mediums. Talk about adding insult to injury.
All PR professionals are obviously different and work on different campaigns, clients and in differing contexts. Universally we deliver key messages for businesses, brands or individuals and give them the recognition they deserve when ‘telling their story’ as Dennis Rutzou, the founder of DRPR puts it so succinctly.
Maybe the solution to this pickle is quite simply an effective PR campaign for the PR industry?
As an aside, if you google “define:public relations” this is entry three:
“Public Relations” is the eleventh episode aired of the TV comedy series Arrested Development.
An episode of a TV comedy series? Is there any wonder the general population is confused as to what PR is?
And Mum and Dad, just in case you’re still not sure…
Public relations is the deliberate, planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organisation (or individual) and its (or their) publics. It’s the key to effective communication in all sectors of business, government, academic and not-for-profit.
PRIA website (www.pria.com.au)
Gill Asbury @gill1984