Saturday, August 14, 2010

Anything more to PR beyond talking?

                  Three things that are most commonly associated with Public Relations are phone, e-mails and newspapers. Most people either don't understand what PR is all about (and that constitutes 90% of the professionals who need it to support and grow their respective companies). The other 5% (include family/ friends and people you randomly meet) who no matter how much you try to explain derive this conclusion that it is one cool job where all you need to do is talk on the phone! and remaining 5% who understand the know-how of PR are rare finds, alas!

           So the following is to clarify that those working in a BPO or a call centre are paid for talking on the phone. While in this profession it is just one of the tools to communicate with clients/media/internally just like in any other business.

            PR is one service that no professional company can ignore and why should it be limited to businesses. Personal PR is given as much importance now days. A statistic say, in a month a PR company gets at least 3-4 requests from individuals who want to take on this service to boost their image. Basically everyone from a company like TATA to a Pizza Corner or an NGO, from Bill Gates to a Kathak dancer need PR for brand building and to talk to the world.

          I know, doing PR for Bill Gates probably sounds like a cake walk and a wow project to work on. Almost everyone may say yes. Though it is comparatively easy but to walk on the cake you need to bake it and for baking that perfect cake you need to get ingredients in the right proportion.

         PR is a profession for thinkers! It needs people who can think, analyze, conceptualize, identify the respective target audience develop strategies; make a POA to achieve the set targets. and mind you no two clients even if they belong to the same industry will have the same strategy. It requires patience in abundance and most importantly it is a 24X7 profession, especially if you work with a hospital client. If the hospital gets an accident victim or a VIP patient one needs to be on site even at 5 am to execute the crisis management process.

       A PR desk gets about 15 newspapers every day and about 20 magazines a month. For a PR professional reading them all (if time permits, else there are dedicated people to do this part of the job alone) is step one. It helps to identify how to place the clients, which story can be plugged where so on and so forth. Oh yes, most of the stories you read in the paper are thanks to people like us!

         Clients think PR is like magic which will boost up their sales or enhance image in a day and that is a constant fight factor for us! Because PR is a sustained effort that supports the advertising and marketing efforts of a company. Ironically this is one of the most under-mined/rated services but highly valued and required at the same time. Costs are negligible in comparison to the huge advertisement budgets and involve much more hard work. For an advt. there is a fixed cost for which you buy space in a newspaper or on a channel.While we put out the same message without paying a penny to anyone and the art is in packaging it perfectly!

          Though unfortunately there are no set standards in the industry to measure the worth of PR but it is said that a story via PR carries 5 times more value than an advertisement. The credibility attached to it is higher as it is a third person endorsing your message.

        Some feel PR has a high glam quotient attached to it. Yes, there are these stuff like, to dine at fancy restaurants and stay at 5-star hotels but then there are no free lunches :). The 'G' factor is hardly an attraction.What keeps us going is to see our stories reaching out to the masses, just like hitting the bull's eye!

        All of this is just the tip the iceberg of what a PR profession is all about. Just because what one notices most is that the PR people talk it doesn't really mean that's all they can do...!

PS: This is a guest post and the views expressed are solely from the mouth of it's author

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