PR Pros: How to Explain Your Job to Your Friends

Cameron Brody

Have you ever had to explain your job to your friends? What does it mean to work in PR? This is what it means to work as a PR professional.


“So you do social media?”

Kind of.

“So you write press releases all day?”

Sometimes. 

“So you do what, exactly?”

Good question.

As public relations professionals, we all know the struggle of having to explain what it is we do to friends, family members, and other interested parties. The truth of the matter is that our day-to-day is really a patchwork of activities, which all tie in to an overarching theme of effective communication. So instead of the standard “well…uh…it’s sort of like…” blabber you may default to, here are a few key talking points to keep in mind the next time some unsuspecting bystanders asks the question:

Third Party Validation

As you attempt to explain PR, feel free to use my favored analogy: “PR is like advertising’s second cousin that it has weird feelings for.” While they both can fit in the marketing family, the major difference between is third party versus first party validation. Or another way to put it: others talking you up versus talking up yourself. The social science behind the concept is that a vote of confidence from someone without a vested stake is significantly more powerful than shameless self-promotion.

Key PR Activity: Media Relations

Paint the Picture

“Hey check out this big news!” a client might say. Well, so what? PR plays the vital role of helping shape client’s stories into the greater narrative of their industry. By communicating the unique perspective of an organization, the public and potential customers realize why they should start paying attention. This can happen in many forms including (but certainly not limited to) press releases, contributed content, and social media.

Key PR Activity: Wordsmithing, research

The Dirty Work

The single greatest interview trope is the following line: “two days are never the same.” That is, to a point, true. At the service of our clients, PR pros may end up doing a number of things (within reason) they had never originally considered part of their job description. In the realm of marketing communication, if a client asks, they can consider it done.

Key PR Activity: Your guess is as good as mine.

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