Wait, PR is more than a Chipotle Crisis and a Tylenol Recall?

If you’re anything like me, you walked onto campus as a freshman ready to take on the world, embrace independence, and completely unsure of what direction your life would take.

For as long as I can remember people had been projecting my future by saying things like “Hey, you’re really good at school I think you should be a teacher!” or “Wow, you’re so creative go into graphic design!” or my personal favorite, “You’re such a great listener, you should become a psychiatrist.” But it wasn’t until I got to college that I heard about the great mystery that is PR.

I think there are a lot of misconceptions about PR.

Holley Malia, President of Grey Matter Marketing wrote, “To buy into the misconceptions of PR is to deprive your company of a strategic opportunity to drive business results by increasing visibility, credibility and thought-leadership” (Malia, 2016). It’s those same misconceptions that I bought into myself before doing a little research in college. Growing up I didn’t know anyone who worked in Public Relations, I didn’t have any connections to it, and I most definitely did not know that it was the degree I would find myself striving after today. I think because PR works behind the scenes for the most part, a lot of people aren’t familiar with all that it entails. However, as I’ve recently discovered, we’re exposed to it every single day.

To me, Public Relations is the relationship between a brand and “the public eye” when things are really good and when things are really bad.  Basically how that person or company is represented and how their image is maintained when a crisis hits. It’s all about knowing the public and your client and thinking two steps ahead. Every situation is different and each campaign is unique. PR is all about being flexible and thinking on your toes while mediating between different audiences. One of the most important roles PR plays is as a negotiator; they find the balance (Vieira & Grantham, 2014). I think what I love most about PR is that it’s all about facing problems head-on and not being afraid to use some strategy. Ignoring an issue won’t make it go away, but by utilizing communication effectively, PR is able to mend just about anything that has been broken.

I’ll be honest in that I don’t really have any experience with PR. After taking the Research Basics of Advertising and Public Relations I walked away with just that, knowledge of the basics. I see PR as the brain working behind the scenes to orchestrate everything together seamlessly. Through my various classes I’ve come to the conclusion that working in PR requires the ability to collaborate, the ability to communicate effectively, and the ability to research efficiently to creatively solve problems. In my mind PR has always just been crisis management such as handling the famous Tylenol case or the recent Chipotle crisis, but I’m quickly learning that it’s so much more than that. When all is said and done, I think PR is important because it allows everyone to benefit. The public benefits by being kept in the loop through communication and the company/business benefits by communicating exactly how they want to be portrayed to the public. As Mr. Corbett, chief executive of Redphlag agency told the New York Times, “Like beauty, the definition of ‘public relations’ is in the eye of the beholder” (Elliott, 2012, p.B2).

So maybe you’re like me and think Public Relations is special because it’s what convinced your mom that it was okay to go to Chipotle again, or maybe you just like guacamole? Either way, Public Relations may not be easy to define, but it’s probably a bigger part of your life than you think.


image by Bethany Garcia

Elliott, S. (2012, March 1). Public Relations Defined, After an Energetic Public Discussion. New York Times, p. B2. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/02/business/media/public-relations-a-topic-that-is-tricky-to-define.html

Malia, H. (2016, July 28). Top 10 Misconceptions about PR. Grey Matter Marketing. Retrieved from http://www.greymattermarketing.com/blog/public-relations-what-exactly-is-it-and-ten-misconceptions-about-it

Vieira, E., & Grantham, S. (2014). Defining public relations roles in the USA using cluster analysis. Public Relations Review, 40(1), 60-68. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2013.11.021


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