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What is PR?

PR stands for Public Relations, which covers a scope of areas in the communications field. In the entertainment industry, PR is called publicity. And other people call it press relations and media relations.

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Photo credit: Photo by Patrick Tomasso on Unsplash

Publicity aims to draw positive attention to something within the media and public eye. Our job is to get as many eyeballs as possible on a piece of news, product, person, or cause.

Public Relations

“A publicist will help you shine."

Like many other industries, there are many areas of expertise within public relations. It could be internal communications in a large organization, crisis management, writing copy, or media relations. A public relations specialist can work in-house, in an agency, or independently.

My career has focused on publicity, writing copy, and crisis management. To the public eye, we don't exist. However, a PR person is often involved in a media story in one way or another. Whether they pitched the story or whether they are protecting someone from media requests and attention.

A publicist is equipped with media contacts and knows the way various media outlets work to produce news, stories, articles, interviews, etc. What is of interest to a particular TV show may not be of interest to a radio show. Within media segments like TV, radio, podcasts, magazines, newspapers, and digital - different outlets are interested in different stories, angles, and topics. Even how they present the content can vary and therefore needs a different pitch style. Consequently, developing a keen understanding and maintaining relationships takes many hours. It can be a full-time job or even a part-time job on a project.

How PR differs to advertising

The publicist works with the editorial departments of media outlets to share potential stories they may be interested in covering. Therefore, you do not pay for space to be featured. The media decides to feature you as content in some form or another. Advertising is paid for by (often) large amounts of money. For this to be purchased, someone is working with the department that focuses on brand partnerships or sales.

Even the way copy is written for advertising compared to publicity is different. To be successful in placing stories, you need to understand how to write a compelling pitch.

Over the years, I've heard some people reference the articles I've had placed as "advertising"; however, this is inaccurate. It is an article, segment, interview, or a product part of a larger feature article (like Holiday Gift Guides). Basically, it is content featured by a third party.

Public relations also protects

“You need to work in real-time during a crisis as it unfolds. The key is to be adaptable while creating a strategy."

It's not always peaches and cream when dealing with the media or being in the spotlight. Out of nowhere, a crisis can arise online or within traditional media. And it can come in a multitude of ways. When this occurs, the PR's job focuses on protection. Either mitigating damage, limiting it, or possibly just managing it, so it doesn't get worse. Although.... if the client doesn't listen to advice, it can just keep getting worse, and there is not much the PR person can do.

In crisis management, the PR is always focused on the public eye. We often focus on not letting sensitive private information being leaked to the media or sniffed out. Sometimes in a crisis, the PR person might need to strike a deal with a journalist to help protect the client.

Advertising is not able to help in a crisis. This is a huge difference between the two industries. In this situation, it becomes about PR first and advertising last (most likely) to drive home a message after the crisis, or advertising might even just keep focusing on their campaigns and messages, not interfering with the crisis.

This is all on a case-by-case basis, as every crisis is different.

What about social media?

I've watched the industry grow and expand from the glory days of 'magazine is King' to Facebook and Instagram being born and creating social media. Public relations and social media are two very different and separate jobs. The industry has tried to bunch them together. Still, as social media has evolved with algorithms changing and new platforms being born, it is two areas of expertise for me.

However, working with traditional media outlets, a publicist can often get placement on their social media accounts as well. This is where I see the partnership and overlap—providing the social media expert content to post and share and working together on messaging.

In a crisis, they could work together as the social media person can monitor and feed any negative coverage published on social media platforms.



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