What they think we do
Everyone has his or her own idea about what working in PR entails. A publicist’s lifestyle is glamorous, we go to networking parties every weekend, we frequently spin the truth – or so the masses believe. We were inspired by AdWeek’s Mother’s Day post, and since we too find most don’t know what we do, we thought we’d shed some light on commonly misunderstood notions about the PR industry. I picked the brains of two people who regularly hear me talk about PR but still do not quite grasp what I do: my parents.
Q: When your friends ask you what I do, what do you tell them?
A: [Mom] You are a publicist and you generally work with authors on their book publicity.
A: [Dad] She promotes authors.
Q: What is the difference between a publisher and a publicist?
A: [Mom] A publisher is the company that actually produces a book and puts things in print. A publicist’s job in the process begins after the book is published.
[No response from Dad because a baseball game is clearly more important.]
Q: How is PR beneficial to brands and thought leaders?
A: [Mom] It seems to me that public relations works kind of hand in hand with advertising and will help establish and grow the brand that the advertisers aspire to have.
A: [Dad] No comment, I forgot the question.
Q: What is the job description of a PR professional?
A: [Mom] You basically are the marketing professional for a person, company or brand. I’d assume you have to be creative, innovative, organized and a team player.
A: [Dad] You promote and market. That’s all I have to say about that.
Q: What is a day in the life of a PR professional?
A: [Mom] I have no idea. If I have to guess, you have different projects you’re working on and you have to write a lot. A portion of your job is talking with your clients and a portion is reaching out to media. You always have to work within a team.
A: [Dad] I bet you exchange a lot of phone calls with people in the media and you have a lot of meetings. Lunch is important too! (as he laughs at his own joke). That’s all I have to say about that.
What we really do
Per the conversation above, here are a few misconceptions about Shelton Interactive’s publicity team – and PR in general – that should be pointed out:
1. PR and advertising go hand in hand. This is a very common misconception. While PR and advertising do have similar end goals, the path each process takes is entirely different. Just remember this popular saying: “Advertising is what you pay for; publicity is what you pray for.”
2. Shelton Interactive only promotes authors. While authors do fall into the large scope of our client base, we also generate publicity and build platforms for thought leaders, brands and companies of all sizes.
3. We are on the phone all of the time. If there is something PR professionals know, it’s that trends and processes within our industry are constantly changing. Though it used to be the norm to pick up the phone to contact a media member, most of them prefer receiving emails. Therefore, publicists spend a good chunk of time writing pitches and emailing the appropriate person, rather than making cold calls all day – though there are times a phone call is appropriate.
4. A publicist’s job ends when we leave the office (or go to lunch). PR professionals never stop working! It is our job to keep an eye on the news cycle and respond in a timely manner based on current projects – in certain circumstances, this includes the weekend.
Overall, PR professionals want to make life easier for both the clients we work for and media members. Our job entails a great deal of building and managing long-lasting relationships – minus the assumed glitz and glam – and starting conversations that matter.