The Public Relations Institute of Southern Africa (PRISA) defines public relations as the management through communication of perceptions and strategic relationships between an organisation and its internal and external stakeholders.
In simple terms, a PR professional is an ‘image or reputational shaper’, our business role is to generate positive publicity for our clients or organisations and enhance their reputation by telling stories.
How is advertising different from PR?
There’s an old saying that clearly differentiate the two domains: “Advertising is what you pay for, publicity is what you pray for.”
PR tools include the following to tell stories:
- Write and distribute press releases to the media for media coverage
- Speech writing when doing events or speaker opportunities
- Write media pitches (less formal than press releases) about a client or company and send them directly to journalists
- Create and execute special events designed for public outreach and media relations
- Conduct market research on the client or the company’s messaging
- Writing and blogging for the web (internal or external sites)
- Crisis public relations strategies
- Social media promotions and responses to negative opinions or media queries
Key things that you need to know before entering the world of PR:
Why do you want to do PR? It’s not about glitz and glamour or knowing important people as most people think. According to research, PR is one of the 30 most stressful jobs in the world – ranked number 23.
Understand the nature of news. What is a newsworthy story and why should people care, how do journalists select their media stories?
Understand the different media platforms: Learn about the history of traditional media and how it’s changing, online media, podcasts, social media.
Learn how to write and enjoy reading: Most PR tools that are listed above include some form of writing. In order to survive and thrive in PR you need to learn how to write and enjoy reading.
Develop relationships. Cultivate and develop relationships. For example, know who covers what in different newspapers, online news sites, radio, TV shows, podcasts just to name a few.
These are some of the things that can help you to decide whether PR is for you or not for you.
Themba Msimango is a public relations professional and a stoic philosopher.
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