“What is that job? And what do I do on a day-to-day basis?”
I get thrown these questions a lot when I mention the two-letter acronym of my industry: PR. Many are puzzled by what this booming sector is about, and how we at PRO spend our working hours.
Public relations, in my mind, is multi-faceted but a large part of my day-to-day is about positively portraying an organisation or individual in the press. We are the “bridge” between companies and journalists. Many of our client’s approach PRO to assist with having their work picked up by websites and papers. We get them coverage, filling the news columns with their story, enabling them to have their say.
Recently, I had the privilege of embarking on my first work trip to do just this, flying to Munich for a large conference for a long-term, prestigious client. An elegant hotel in Bavaria was to become the home of this conference for its three-day duration, its lobby and rooms were filled with literally hundreds of guests from across the globe. Prominent leaders and politicians gave keynote addresses and current, controversial issues were debated. It was an event that certainly justified news coverage, and it was our job, as the “bridge” between our client and the media, to get it.
First, a few weeks before, the PRO team reached out to journalists, calling, messaging, and emailing a targeted list to see if they would come and report on the convention. Phone calls seemed to work best, and many journalists answered them. Perhaps there is something alluring about that mysterious unknown number ringing out? Several key journalists expressed their interest in the conference and were flown out to attend.
Being the “bridges” that we are, we then went back to our client hosting the event and helped them prepare for interviews with the journalists. We wrote briefing notes and ensured that the messaging, their detailed formulated responses to those investigative questions that the journalists would pose to them, were true, robust, and coherent.
At the conference, my colleagues and I showed the journalists around and arranged interviews. We wrote press releases at the end of each day and issued these releases to a larger list of contacts from news outlets worldwide. These press releases were transformed by those journalists whose inbox it landed in into punchy news articles reporting on the story, and who knows, maybe you have read about it in the morning papers?
Our PR work was a huge success. National, international and community press reported on the conference. One prominent interview was syndicated and adapted by news agencies across the globe, from India to Israel. All of this was testament to the momentous and newsworthy conference that it truly was.
One evening during dinner at the conference, I sat chatting to a journalist sitting to my left. He was a correspondent for one of France’s most widely read and important papers. “The ability that you have to influence millions of people is truly amazing,” I remarked to him, genuinely impressed. Yet, upon reflection, he was aided by the PR teams and therefore, this ability to reach millions, giving a voice to individuals and organisations, is also one that PR agencies have, working hand-in-hand with media and being that vital and all-important bridge.
Now you understand what part of my job is about, and why it is so crucial.
Gavriel Cohn is an account executive at The PR Office.