What kind of job is PR anyway?
It’s a news job
If you work in PR, you have to love current affairs, and particularly how the news intersects with what your clients do. In our case, our clients are businesses, many of them startups in the tech and sustainability sectors. So, we need to be across all kinds of trends and developments in these areas – from corporate news and government policy to public opinion.
As a PR person you are not a journalist – and many a journalist will (wrongly) say that the two roles are worlds apart – but it certainly serves you well if you can think like a journalist for a fair amount of the time. You need to be plugged in to what is going on in the world and to quickly assess the value of the story you’re pitching against the backdrop of the news of the day and the media environment.
It’s a relationship job
PR is also a client relations role and it is your responsibility to swiftly establish, and of course retain, exceptional communications with every client you work with. You need to get as much information as you can out of your client in order to successfully pitch their stories to journalists. You also need to keep them regularly updated on your activities and retain their trust. If a client starts to have any doubts, you could be on your way out very soon – so being as in tune with your clients as possible is very important.
Plus, the clients are only half of it. An effective PR also has to nurture great working relationships with journalists. The old idea of a ‘black book’ of contacts of hacks that will print whatever you ask is as outdated today as ‘AbFab’-style drinks parties and freebie gifts. You develop and maintain good relationships with journalists by pitching them good stories that fit with the beat they cover, and then by providing them with whatever they need to write their piece – interviews, research, images, even (shhh) the final copy sometimes – on time, every time. It’s as simple as that.
It’s a writing job
Good writing is absolutely central to good PR. Basic journalistic and storytelling skills are very useful, and can be learnt. Fundamentally, you need to have a love of language and words because you spend a large part of every workday crafting the most impactful writing you can muster in order to achieve your purpose – be that a press release, a presentation or even a simple pitch email. Every word matters.
Tone also matters. Every email that you write is a representation of your communications skills, and thus a mini example of who you are as a PR – professional, polite, to the point. Furthermore, when writing speeches or byline articles for a client, you have to learn as much as you can about their tone and emulate it as well as you can. Writing as someone else is a challenge, but very rewarding when you get it right. Then you know you’re winning as a PR.
It’s a sales job
So, PR is a relationship role as well as a news and writing job – but there’s a sharp end too. It’s also about sales. Clients are paying you for results, so it’s on you to go out and get those results or to come back with a very good reason why it’s not possible and an alternative plan. Plus, you’re in a position where clients can quickly change their mind on the value or PR in general, or your way of doing it in particular. You are on the line.
You have to sell your ideas to your client.
You have to sell your clients and their stories to journalists.
You have to sell your results and your ongoing plan back to your clients.
It’s a great job!
As a PR, your fundamental role is to draw the best stories out of your clients, craft the best pitches and sell them into the right journalists. It is not about spinning the truth to achieve your client’s goals – journalists won’t stand for that, and neither will good PRs. Getting stories into the media is incredibly competitive, and there is more content out there than ever before. It’s a thrill every time your work leads to a piece of coverage being published!
PR is a multi-skilled, challenging and stimulating job. It gives you the inside track on how your clients think and why they make the decisions they do. In our case, these are mainly business founders and CEOs and we find it absolutely fascinating to be a part of their journey – and to tell, and sell, their stories in the best way possible.
Sound like you?
Passion for news, dedication to relationship building, ability in writing and the confidence to sell are all essential. These are what you need to get stories placed in the media and achieve your client’s goals. If this sounds like you, then you’ve got the building blocks for a career in PR.
If reading this has inspired you and you’d like to discuss starting out in PR, get in touch with us. We are always on the lookout for excellent people to add to our team and often have freelance opportunities as well.