What is Public Relations Anyway?

When I graduated from college, with my degree in journalism and public relations I had a cursory knowledge of marketing and advertising. Don’t get me wrong; I had a strong fundamental writing degree, understood PR and was acutely aware of brands and advertising as a hobby – but not as part of my media and writing-centric education.  But I studied PR, in my most studious voice: “the management of information between an individual or an organization and its stakeholders with activities that do not require direct payment”.

Post college, I began to see more intimately the relationship between PR, marketing and advertising. But, when working in one of the largest PR firms in the world, you quickly understand that there exists a PR group, a marketing group and a sister company focused on advertising.  Everyone stayed in their lanes.

It’s just how it was done.

However, with the rise of digital media; firms and customers have learned to adapt.  There usually are not three firms or three practice areas supporting one client. While integrated communications is the buzzword du jour; it’s also the new reality if companies want to make an impact for a client.

While this deserves its own blog post, it’s important to point out that many colleges and universities are doing students a disservice by having PR, marketing, advertising, and communications still have separate programs with their own requirements. It’s hard to hire when I need someone who can do a little bit of it all.

When I started Anthology, I knew how I wanted to approach PR.  It’s ultimately about helping my clients connect to their audiences, whether that means helping them sell products, or informing their stakeholders of key policy changes.  Some days it’s cool work and other days it’s a long slog of research, opinions and putting insights into actions.

So is PR what I do?  Is that what any of us do?  I don’t know.

What I do know is this.  If you aren’t bringing a little bit of everything into communications campaigns – they aren’t working.  A media strategy needs email marketing.  Email marketing needs remarketing and paid digital, and they all need content (note to self, that writing degree was just fine).

All the mass communications disciplines can no longer be siloed.

Written by Denise Kennedy

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